MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota forward Corey Brewer tied a franchise record by scoring 51 points and the Timberwolves beat Houston 112-110 Friday night at Target Center on rookie center Gorgui Dieng’s soft jumper from the lane with 4.6 seconds left.
That’s right, Corey Brewer and Gorgui Dieng.
With three-time All Star Kevin Love and four other Minnesota teammates out injured, Brewer stepped forth with a scoring performance seen only one other time in franchise history.
Brewer tied Love’s franchise record, but Love got his 51 points in a double-overtime game against Oklahoma City in March 2012.
Brewer scored his 51 points and then assisted Dieng on a jump shot that put the Wolves ahead 107-105 with 36 seconds left.
When James Harden tied the game with a 3-pointer with 17 seconds left, Dieng won the game by corralling a ball bouncing in the air and lofting a shot that fell.
Harden finished with 33 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and six steals. Forward Chandler Parsons added 27 points.
Brewer scored 16 points in the first quarter and scored at least 10 points in every quarter after that.
Brewer is the fifth NBA player this season to score 50 points. The others: New York’s Carmelo Anthony, Miami’s LeBron James, Toronto’s Terrence Ross and Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant (twice).
The Wolves have won at Miami and beaten San Antonio and Houston at home in the last week of a season in which they have nothing left for which to play other than professionalism and personal pride.
Love hyperextended his elbow Wednesday in a home loss and was pulled from the starting lineup just minutes before the opening tip.
The Wolves played on without Love, fellow starters Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Martin and two others, while the Rockets went without starters Dwight Howard and Patrick Beverley.
With Love out, the Wolves started Robbie Hummel and Dante Cunningham in their frontcourt, essentially moving Brewer to a shooting-guard spot and a featured scoring role.
He scored 26 by halftime, thanks to a half-court, 3-point shot at the buzzer.
The 26 points in 21 first-half minutes were just three shy of his career high, a mark he broke by the middle of the third quarter.
Brewer’s 26 points were the most in a first half by a Wolves player since Michael Beasley scored 27 at Sacramento on Nov. 10, 2010. Beasley finished with 42 in that game.
By third quarter’s end, Brewer had 36 and the Wolves trailed 84-82 after allowing the Rockets a 12-4 run to end the quarter.
Brewer also reached four steals for the fourth consecutive game. That’s the longest streak of his career and the longest in the NBA since Baron Davis did it in seven consecutive games from Oct. 29 to Nov. 8, 2003.
Wolves forward Dante Cunningham had 20 points and 13 rebounds, the first 20-10 game of his five-year pro career.
NOTES: Timberwolves All-Star F Kevin Love was a late scratch because of a hyperextended elbow he suffered Wednesday in a home loss to Chicago. Timberwolves C Nikola Pekovic (foot), G Kevin Martin (foot), F Chase Budinger (ankle) and F/G Shabazz Muhammad (knee) remained out as well. … Rockets All-Star C Dwight Howard missed his eighth consecutive game because of a left ankle strain, and G Patrick Beverley missed his seventh straight game because of a knee strain. … The Rockets signed C Dexter Pittman to a multi-year contract from the D-League’s Austin Toros. To clear a roster spot, the Rockets waived C/F Greg Smith. Pittman averaged 11.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in 28 D-League games this season. … Love needs 79 points to reach Kevin Garnett’s franchise season scoring record. He has 1,908 points and Garnett scored 1,987 in the 2003-04 season. But there’s no telling if or when Love will play again this season, with just three games left.
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