Flynn, Wolves rally from 20 down to beat Sixers
MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Eddie Jordan’s grip on the head coaching job in Philadelphia wasn’t exactly firm when the 76ers walked into Target Center on Monday to face the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Blowing a 20-point lead against the team with the second-worst record in the NBA certainly won’t help his cause.
“The old skeletons came out of the closet for us,” Jordan said.
Al Jefferson(notes) added 23 points and 13 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who trailed 51-31 with 3 minutes to go in the first half. But even without Kevin Love(notes) in the lineup because of an illness, the Wolves outscored Philly 68-36 the rest of the way and held advantages of 43-39 in rebounds and 22-8 in second-chance points to stun the Sixers.
“You don’t want to be in situations like that, but if you are part of that situation you have to keep fighting,” Flynn said. “That’s one thing that Kurt (Rambis) always preaches to us is that you can comeback from anything. We proved that today.”
And the Sixers proved that no lead is safe for them.
Team president Ed Stefanski recently refused to guarantee Jordan would last the entire season, saying the entire organization needed to be better. The Sixers are 3-3 since that assessment, with losses to the Knicks (16-24), Wizards (13-26) and Timberwolves (9-33) this month.
“It’s a old cliche that players win ball games,” said forward Elton Brand(notes), the $80 million man who again was underwhelming with 10 points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes. “He’s doing the best he feels he can do. We don’t just want to win for him, we do want to win for him, we want to win for us, too, and the city. We were right there, and we though we turned the corner. It’s just a disappointing loss.”
Flynn had four points and a key steal in the first minute of the extra period to get the Wolves on track for just their ninth victory of the season.
Minnesota trailed by 17 points at halftime, but Ryan Gomes(notes) scored 14 of his 16 points in a 33-18 third quarter to get the Wolves back in the game. Damien Wilkins(notes) added 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Wolves.
The Timberwolves forced 10 turnovers in the second half and overtime and made the Sixers work harder for their shots to scratch their way back into the game.
“That’s what wins games, defense and rebounding and getting our guys more shots,” Jefferson said. “We contested their shots and we scrambled.”
Rambis lamented another poor start from his young team, but said he was “very proud of the fact that they came out and played very hard and determined in the second half.”
The Sixers cruised out to a huge early lead thanks to torrid shooting and another lackluster start by the young Timberwolves, who missed 22 of their first 29 shots.
The Sixers, who have struggled to score points all season long, rolled up 57 in the first half and only turned the ball over four times to build a 17-point lead at the break.
All that work was wasted in a listless second half, and the Sixers were again left searching for answers.
“Why aren’t we getting stops down the stretch? How come we aren’t a better team?” Sixers guard Louis Williams(notes) said. “The answer is we all in this locker room have to look ourselves in the mirror and just do a better job. There’s no other explanation. As a team, we have to do a better job, especially when we’re coming out and playing as well as we were playing. That hurts.”
NOTES: Veteran Brian Cardinal(notes) gave the Wolves a big lift off the bench in the third quarter, providing energy and effort that wasn’t there early. He finished with nine points and three assists in 12:27. … Samuel Dalembert(notes), who ranks second in the NBA in blocks per game, has at least three blocks in five of the last six games. … Timberwolves C Ryan Hollins(notes) returned to the lineup after missing six games because of an upper respiratory infection.