MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—With the game on the line, the Minnesota Timberwolves turned to a rookie.
Randy Foye delivered.
The seventh pick in the draft made a runner with 1.8 seconds left, and the Timberwolves escaped with a 100-98 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night after blowing a 25-point lead.
“That’s what I do best, make plays for myself and make plays for other people,” Foye said. “You would see the last seven minutes of every game in college (at Villanova) I had the ball and I wasn’t scoring all the time. I was making plays for other people, but if they took that away from me I scored.”
Foye preserved the win when he altered a potential game-tying shot by Andres Nocioni at the buzzer.
“I knew they were going to make a run, but I didn’t want it to get that close,” said Minnesota coach Dwane Casey, who had no hesitation about giving Foye the chance to win the game.
“He makes big plays, that’s who he is and what he’s going to be the future,” he said. “We have to live with the growing pains, his good and his bad. I love him to death as a player.”
Reserve Ben Gordon, who led Chicago with 27 points, drove past Garnett for a layup with 7.1 seconds left to complete a comeback for the Bulls, who trailed 70-45 midway through the third quarter.
Garnett had 26 points and 14 rebounds for Minnesota.
Hinrich had 19, Nocioni 18 and Luol Deng 16 for Chicago, 1-6 in road games against the Western Conference. The Bulls have lost just three times in their last 16 games—twice to Minnesota.
“It’s obviously discouraging,” Hinrich said. “It’s a game we probably shouldn’t have won. They outplayed us most of the game, but we fought hard and came back and had a chance to win it. I gave up a big basket to Randy Foye at the end of the game where we had a chance to send it to overtime and have a fresh start.
“It’s disheartening because you fight back and do good things and have a chance to steal a game and you’re not able to, it’s tough to take.”
A jumper by Thabo Sefolosha capped a 12-0 Chicago run and got the Bulls within 94-92 with 2:23 to play, before Foye scored on an inbounds play.
“Basketball is a game of runs,” Foye said. “We completely shut them down for 2 1/2 quarters, but the quarter-and-half they made a run. They’ve got good players, too.”
Two free throws by Gordon and a driving layup by Hinrich got the Bulls within 98-96 with 44 seconds to play.
“We came out in the first half with a lack of energy. In the second half we showed what kind of team we can be if we play our style of basketball,” Gordon said. “We had to come back from 20 or whatever points and we could’ve won the game at the end. It’s a lesson for us. We’ve got to play like that the entire game, not just one half.”
Blount scored eight of his 12 first-quarter points during a 13-2 run that put Minnesota up 23-11. The Wolves shot 68 percent in the opening 12 minutes while Chicago was at 36 percent.
Garnett set up Blount for a dunk to put Minnesota up 45-27 midway through the second. Garnett then made two free throws after he was fouled on a pass from Blount and another after a feed from Marko Jaric for a 21-point lead.
Three free throws by Gordon with 0.1 seconds left cut the deficit to 15 at the break, but Garnett scored eight points early in the third quarter to help Minnesota to a 67-43 lead.
Garnett was concerned that the Wolves nearly blew their second double-digit, fourth-quarter lead in six days. Minnesota was outscored 34-7 in the fourth quarter last Wednesday, losing 111-94 to the Los Angeles Lakers.
“We have to figure it out as a team,” Garnett said. “I’m sure the coaching staff has to do some things to adjust and make things easier on everybody else, but as players everyone has to do what they can to sustain the lead and stay aggressive in there.”
Minnesota shot 51 percent for the game; Chicago 43 percent. … Both teams are beginning a stretch of four games in five days. … F Trenton Hassell played 35:27 for Minnesota after missing Saturday’s game with the flu. … Minnesota is 14-4 against Chicago in the last 10 seasons. … Gordon was 10-for-10 from the free throw line.