Never underestimate the power of rest. Playing their second game in as many nights, the Timberwolves sleepwalked through the first three quarters of Wednesday's game against an undermanned Atlanta Hawks team playing without leading scorer Joe Johnson.
Led by the unlikely pair of Mike Miller and Rashad McCants, the Wolves woke up in the fourth and cut what had been a 17-point Atlanta lead to 85-83 on Randy Foye's layup with 1:46 to play.
Mike Bibby hit a killer three-pointer to make it 89-84 with 44.2 seconds to go, though, and the Hawks held on for a 94-86 win at Target Center with Johnson sitting at home in Atlanta with a flu bug.
Bibby had 24 points and Marvin Williams 23 for the Hawks (28-20), who beat the Wolves for the fifth straight time and third in a row at Target Center.
Al Jefferson had 18 points and 11 rebounds to lead Minnesota (17-31), which shot just 36.4 percent (32 of 88) on a night when point guard Sebastian Telfair went 0 for 9.
There were bright spots for the Wolves, none more surprising than McCants, who had 10 fourth-quarter points in his first game action since seven garbage-time minutes in a 129-87 blowout of Oklahoma City on Jan. 7.
Miller broke out of a prolonged slump with 17 points and rookie Kevin Love, starting in place of the injured Craig Smith (bruised ribs), had 16 and 14 rebounds.
It wasn't enough, though, to prevent a fourth loss in five games for the Wolves, who have two days off before a weekend trip to Houston and New Orleans.
The Wolves never trailed during the first 6 1/2 minutes as Jefferson hit two early baskets, Love got a tip and Foye nailed a long three-pointer.
Josh Smith gave Atlanta its first lead with a layup that made it 12-11 with 5:22 to play in the quarter, and Bibby followed with a three.
Brian Cardinal came off the bench to hit a three for Minnesota and make it 17-16, but the Hawks scored five straight points to finish the period up 22-18.
Love hit two free throws to open the second quarter, but Atlanta went on an 8-0 run and took a 10-point lead, 30-20, on Williams' layup.
A Miller layup interrupted that streak, but the Hawks went on another 10-2 spurt capped by a Zaza Pachuilia jumper for a 16-point cushion, 40-24, with 4:53 left in the half.
The Wolves went on an 11-3 run and cut it to six on a Foye layup, but Smith hit another jumper to make it 45-37 Hawks at intermission.
Jefferson started the second half with a driving layup, but Atlanta pulled away to a 13-point lead with the Wolves coach Kevin McHale pleading for ball movement.
A Flip Murray layup pushed it to 17, and the Hawks took a 75-62 lead into the final period.
Atlanta was still up 13 when Miller took over, hitting a basket and back-to-back threes to make it a 77-72 game with 8:42 to play.
Bibby banked in a tough shot in the lane, but McCants hit a three to pull Minnesota within four, 79-75, with 7:22 left.
McCants hit another three to make it an 84-80 game with 3:40 to play and the Wolves twice got to within a basket on Foye's layup and a Jefferson free throw with 1:04 remaining.
That was as close as they got, though, as Atlanta held on.