Rambis, T'Wolves win season openerMinnesota Sports - Damien Wilkins hit a leaning bank shot as time expired, and the Minnesota Timberwolves responded from a 16-point fourth quarter deficit to stun the New Jersey Nets, 95-93, in the season opener for both clubs. It made a winner of Kurt Rambis, who was making his head coaching debut for Minnesota
Courtsey of the Sports Network
MINNEAPOLIS - Damien Wilkins hit a leaning bank shot as time expired, and the Minnesota Timberwolves responded from a 16-point fourth quarter deficit to stun the New Jersey Nets, 95-93, in the season opener for both clubs.
Wilkins, who played in just 41 games for the Thunder last season, grabbed a rebound with 1.3 seconds left, jumped and hurled an off-balance shot that found its way to the bottom of the basket. The Timberwolves closed the game on a 24-6 run in the final 6:50 to win the game.
Rookie Jonny Flynn led the team in scoring in his first game with 18 points, including 13 in the final quarter, for the Timberwolves. Wilkins finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Ryan Gomes was the only other player in double- figures with 10 points for the Wolves, who got at least two points from every player on its roster.
"We're not the biggest team, we're not the strongest team," said Flynn. "But we're a scrappy team. In that fourth quarter we really got after it, got into a frantic style of play, which really favored us."
It made a winner of Kurt Rambis, who was making his head coaching debut for Minnesota. He replaced Kevin McHale.
Brook Lopez dominated for New Jersey with 27 points and 15 rebounds, but the Nets squandered their first game without last year's leading scorer, Vince Carter, who was traded to Orlando. The returning pieces -- Courtney Lee, Rafer Alston and Tony Battie -- combined for five points.
"We had it, we were up 14, but had to finish it," said Alston. "I think they did a better job of finishing the game than we did, thus they won the game. We have to keep our turnovers down and get good quality possessions."
Yi Jianlian had 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Nets, while Devin Harris added 14 points, eight assists and six rebounds in defeat. Rookie Terrence Williams debuted with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Trailing, 87-71, with just under seven minutes to play, the Timberwolves stormed back to make it a tight contest.
A 12-0 run immediately cut Minnesota's deficit to four, as Flynn contributed six points to the burst. Wayne Ellington added four, including a layup with four minutes left that made it 87-83.
Yi sank four free throws around a Sasha Pavlovic jumper to make it 91-85 in favor of the Nets with three minutes to go, but The T'Wolves scored eight straight points to go in front.
Corey Brewer hit a floater from the baseline with 1:33 left to make it a one- point deficit, 91-90, and Yi had the ball stripped by Brewer on the other end to give the Wolves the ball back.
Flynn was fouled with 34.6 seconds remaining and made both free throws for a one-point lead, and Lopez was blocked by Al Jefferson attempting a short shot on the ensuing possession to preserve the lead.
Flynn made only 1-of-2 free throws at the other end for a 93-91 lead, but Harris tied the game with a high bank shot with 18.5 seconds left.
After a timeout, Minnesota held for the final shot, which was missed by Flynn. Wilkins then grabbed the rebound with 1.3 seconds left and made his bank shot for the win.
Lopez scored 10 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked four shots in the first quarter, and the Nets led, 25-21, after the opening period.
An 15-4 run by the Nets in the middle of the second quarter helped New Jersey take a 55-43 halftime lead. Down, 29-27, New Jersey got a pair of free throws from Bobby Simmons and a Yi jumper to take the lead.
After Minnesota tied the game on a pair of Pavlovic free throws, the Nets scored seven straight points, and a Harris layup with four minutes left made it 42-33. New Jersey then scored six of the half's last eight points to take a 12-point advantage.
A couple free throws from Williams put the Nets ahead by 19, 72-53, at the midway point of the third quarter, but Minnesota responded with eight straight points to cut its deficit to 11 on Brian Cardinal's jumper.
Ramon Sessions' free throw in the final moments of the period had the T'Wolves trailing, 78-64, heading to the fourth, when Minnesota made a game of it.
"We just couldn't execute on both ends of the floor," Wilkins said of the first three quarters. "We were doing some good things offensively, but not defensively. We came out the last seven minutes of the fourth quarter and buckled down. We played good defense and kept that momentum going."