MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — After a strong start to the season, the Atlanta Hawks never thought they'd be in a fight to make the playoffs when April came rolling around.
If they don't find a way to stop the tumble they've been on before March closes, they could find themselves on the outside looking in.
Gorgui Dieng had 15 points and 15 rebounds to continue his out-of-nowhere emergence, and the Minnesota Timberwolves dealt the slumping Hawks another costly loss with a 107-83 victory.
"I think to a certain degree each guy has just got to find it in him," Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. "And I think the group has got to find the energy that the group can build. We've spent most of this season playing with very good energy, so I think there's a lot of things we can pull on an reference to how we want to play and tonight would not be one of those nights."
Paul Millsap had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Atlanta (31-39), which has lost four straight and has the New York Knicks right in their rearview mirror for the eighth and final playoff spot. Jeff Teague, who had averaged more than 23 points over the previous four games, went scoreless for the first time this season on 0-for-5 shooting.
"I think we just didn't come ready to play," Hawks guard DeMarre Carroll said. "Once we started missing a lot of shots, then we lost our focus. At this time of year, you can't lose your focus."
Corey Brewer and Kevin Martin each scored 18 points and Kevin Love had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves. Minnesota scored 32 points off 26 Hawks turnovers and blew the game open in the second half.
The struggling Wolves defense held Atlanta to 37.8 percent shooting and had six of its 17 steals in the third quarter to start pulling away.
With starting center Nikola Pekovic out for the sixth straight game, Wolves coach Rick Adelman had no choice but to thrust the rookie Dieng into the first significant minutes of his career. Dieng has flourished with the added responsibility, posting double-doubles in five of the six games. He had 10 points and 13 rebounds in the first half, helping the Wolves weather an unusually quiet night from Love.
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