February 27, 2020 / 3:42 AM / 3 months ago

Wolves end 5-game skid by toppling host Heat

EditorsNote: Clarified in 2nd graf that the Heat were sporting a 23-3 home record; other minor fixes

Feb 26, 2020; Miami, Florida, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward James Johnson (16) walks onto the court prior to the game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

D’Angelo Russell scored 27 points, and Jordan McLaughlin made the go-ahead layup with 8.5 seconds left, leading the supposedly overmatched Minnesota Timberwolves to a 129-126 upset win over the host Miami Heat on Wednesday night.

Entering Wednesday, the Timberwolves had lost 18 of their past 19 games, and the Heat were sporting a 23-3 home record.

But the Timberwolves used a 16-4 fourth-quarter spurt to get back into the game.

Seldom-used reserve Jake Layman made two free throws with 17 seconds left to give Minnesota a 125-124 lead. After two free throws by Miami’s Jimmy Butler, the 5-foot-11 McLaughlin drove the right side of the lane and somehow got his shot over 6-9 shot-blocker Bam Adebayo.

Butler, a five-time All-Star who had missed the previous two games due to personal issues, posted 18 points and a game-high nine assists.

Rookie guard Kendrick Nunn led Miami with 24 points, and Adebayo — playing despite a sprained ankle and stitches under his left eye — had 22 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

The Heat have lost two straight games, against two of the bottom five teams in the NBA: Minnesota and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Minnesota snapped a five-game losing streak despite playing its fifth straight game without star center Karl-Anthony Towns, who has a wrist injury.

Wednesday’s game marked the return of two former Heat forwards: Malik Beasley, who had 21 points, and James Johnson, who added 11.

The Heat were without Tyler Herro and center Meyers Leonard, who have each missed nine straight games due to ankle injuries.

Minnesota led 29-28 after the first quarter, thanks to shooting 48.0 percent from the floor while holding Miami to 41.7 percent.

Despite 16 points by Russell in the first half, Miami grabbed a 60-57 lead at the break. The big difference for Miami in the first half was outscoring Minnesota 13-4 from the free-throw line.

The Timberwolves, thanks to a 38-point third quarter, surged back on top 95-94. Russell had 24 points through three periods.

Miami seemed to take control of the game in the fourth quarter, but Minnesota used an 11-0 run to tie the score 123-123 with 46 seconds left, setting the stage for the final drama.

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