Jefferson, Smith help snap 8-game skid

By Jon Krawczynski

AP Sports Writer

MINNEAPOLIS — Al Jefferson wouldn’t allow his Minnesota Timberwolves to collapse in the fourth quarter again.

Jefferson scored six of his 25 points in the final 3 1/2 minutes to lift Minnesota to a 102-96 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night, snapping an eight-game losing streak.

Elton Brand had 19 points and 13 rebounds for Philadelphia, which missed eight free throws and lost for the first time in four games.


Six of Minnesota’s defeats came by six points or fewer and with the Timberwolves ahead at some point in the fourth quarter. It looked to be going that way again against Philadelphia when Andre Iguodala’s three-point play cut an 11-point lead to 92-91.

But Jefferson bulled his way to the basket on three straight occasions when the Wolves absolutely needed a bucket, helping the team avoid a losing streak that would have been longer than any in last year’s miserable 22-60 season.

Craig Smith scored a season-high 21 points and matched a career best with five assists, and Mike Miller had 10 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the Wolves, who won for the first time since the season opener against Sacramento.

Andre Miller’s 22-foot jumper cut it to 95-94, but Mike Miller’s long 3-pointer on the other end put the game away with 30 seconds to go.

So many times during their eight-game skid the Wolves built a formidable lead out of halftime, only to let their opponent chip away at it to a manageable deficit going into the fourth.

Once there, the Wolves would fall apart down the stretch. In the last five minutes of their previous nine games, they shot less than 32 percent from the field and were outscored 133-93.

This time, Minnesota gave itself some more breathing room heading into that pesky final period.

The burly Smith harkened back to his days on the California blacktop when he crossed over Reggie Evans at the top of the key and got to the basket to draw a foul. His free throw capped a 9-2 run that helped Minnesota take a 76-65 lead into the fourth.


It still ended up being a nail-biter, but Jefferson’s twisting layup with 2:33 to go set the tone for a team that had yet to close out a close game this season. He pounded his chest as he headed back up the court, sending a message that this time was going to be different.

NOTES: Timberwolves G Rashad McCants left with 9:13 to play in the second quarter after having back spasms and did not return. ... Vikings LB Chad Greenway sat in courtside seats provided by his good buddy and fellow South Dakotan Mike Miller. Greenway is from tiny Mount Vernon while Miller is from Mitchell, about 25 minutes down the road. ... Two of the three former Sixers on the Wolves — Kevin Ollie and Calvin Booth — were inactive and the third — Rodney Carney — did not play.



Brand 9-21 1-3 19, Young 7-11 1-2 15, Dalembert 2-6 0-0 4, A.Miller 8-13 4-4 20, Iguodala 6-15 4-9 17, Green 3-5 0-0 6, Speights 3-6 2-2 8, Williams 2-6 3-3 7, Ivey 0-1 0-0 0, Evans 0-0 0-0 0, Rush 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 40-85 15-23 96.


Gomes 6-12 0-0 14, Jefferson 12-21 1-3 25, Collins 0-2 1-2 1, Foye 3-8 4-4 10, M.Miller 4-7 0-0 10, Love 2-6 5-5 9, McCants 2-3 0-0 4, Brewer 2-5 2-4 6, C.Smith 7-9 7-10 21, Telfair 0-1 2-2 2. Totals 38-74 22-30 102.

Philadelphia..... 27 25 13 31 — 96


Minnesota........ 24 32 20 26 — 102

3-Point Goals — Philadelphia 1-11 (Iguodala 1-6, Young 0-1, Ivey 0-1, Rush 0-1, Green 0-2), Minnesota 4-12 (M.Miller 2-4, Gomes 2-5, Foye 0-3). Fouled Out — None. Rebounds — Philadelphia 52 (Brand 13), Minnesota 45 (M.Miller 10). Assists —Philadelphia 19 (Iguodala, A.Miller 6), Minnesota 29 (Telfair 8). Total Fouls — Philadelphia 26, Minnesota 19. Technicals — Minnesota defensive three second.

A — 10,111 (19,443).

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