MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The final seconds ticked off the clock and Ricky Rubio looked up to see his Minnesota Timberwolves ahead on the scoreboard. It's been a rare occurrence for him recently, and as the relief washed over him he flung the ball high in the air and into the stands.
A six-game losing streak was done, just their fourth victory in the last 26 games was in hand, and Rubio was the one who had made sure they didn't let another game slip away.
He had 15 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds and six steals to lead the Timberwolves to an 87-82 victory over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.
"Today was a relief to get that win," Rubio said.
Derrick Williams added 16 points and seven rebounds for the Timberwolves, and J.J. Barea scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter for the Wolves, who again were playing with just nine healthy players because of a slew of injuries.
John Wall had 19 points and seven assists, and Trevor Ariza added 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Wizards, who were missing leading scorer Bradley Beal because of a sprained left ankle. Washington turned the ball over 24 times, leading to 30 points by Minnesota.
"We're not going to beat anybody with the carelessness we had with the ball," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "We just don't value the basketball at all. It doesn't hurt us to have a turnover. We just throw it all over."
Washington led by eight early in the fourth, but Rubio's defense keyed a 21-9 surge by the Timberwolves over the final 9:30. He had four steals in the final 8:25, the last coming with 30 seconds remaining and the Wolves clinging to a one-point lead. Shaking off a sore left hand, he dove to the floor to poke a loose ball away from Wall and push it ahead to Barea for a layup that gave Minnesota an 85-82 lead with 28.2 seconds left.
Luke Ridnour scored 15 points and Dante Cunningham added 11 points and five rebounds for the Timberwolves.
"They have just been slapped around so much," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. "I think you get to a point where you keep saying the same things, you keep talking about the same things. But you need to get a win."
Nene had 12 points and eight boards, and Emeka Okafor added 10 points and 14 rebounds for the Wizards, who squandered a 44-34 advantage on the boards against the short-handed Wolves.