Jefferson’s 29 points, 13 rebounds rally Wolves over Memphis

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — Glen Taylor’s new Timberwolves certainly aren’t tanking.

Al Jefferson scored 22 of his 29 points in the second half to help the Wolves erase a 14-point deficit in a 98-94 victory over the lowly Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.

After hitting just one of his first 11 shots, Ryan Gomes made two free throws and then jumper from the elbow with 52.8 seconds left to help seal it and hand the Grizzlies their 18th straight road loss.

Mike Miller had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Rudy Gay scored 25 for the Grizzlies (16-51), who moved into a tie with Seattle for the second-worst record in the NBA.


This had to be one of the toughest losses yet in a miserable season in which Memphis has not won on the road since Jan. 2. The Grizzlies led 52-38 at halftime before Jefferson took over in the low post, having his way with Jason Collins, Hakim Warrick and, briefly, Kwame Brown.

His spinning layup with 5:20 to go gave the Wolves their first lead at 79-78, and he added a three-point play down the stretch and also had 13 rebounds.

Rashad McCants had 19 points off the bench and Randy Foye scored all 12 of his points in the second half for the Timberwolves (17-50), who have won five of their last seven games to move ahead of the Sonics and Grizzlies in the standings.

The Timberwolves have been accused of dumping games at the end of the last two seasons to hold onto their lottery picks, including at the end of 2006 when center Mark Madsen went 0-for-7 from 3-point range in a double overtime loss to these Grizzlies that ensured they kept their first-round draft pick.

Minnesota also was questioned when Kevin Garnett was shut down for the final five games of last season, but Taylor said Tuesday that, "it was more like KG tanked it."

Those comments drew puzzled looks and considerable criticism across the league, but he also deserves credit for saying he is pushing this young team to win at the end of this season rather than think about the lottery.

Jefferson scored 12 points during a 17-5 run in the third quarter, including a whirling double spin move that left Darko Milicic swatting at air and negated a rough start.

The Grizzlies scored 28 points in the first quarter and led by 16 points after Juan Carlos Navarro hit one of his trademark "La Bomba" shots — a high-arching teardrop in the lane during that gave them a 48-32 lead.


But it was all downhill after halftime for the Grizzlies, who now are facing their own questions about tanking.

Their trade of Pau Gasol to the Lakers drew considerable ire from fans and other Western Conference teams, notably Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, and prompted some to speculate that they were giving up on this season in hopes of getting a high draft pick to continue their rebuilding process.

They have lost 20 of their last 23 games and are 3-18 since trading Gasol.

Notes: Wolves coach Randy Wittman declined to comment directly on Taylor’s quote. "I haven’t coached a guy that played harder or practiced harder. ... We would be a lot better off in this league if we had more people like that, trust me," Wittman said of Garnett. ... Jefferson broke the Felton Spencer’s single-season franchise record for offensive rebounds, set in 1990-91. ... Memphis PGs Kyle Lowry, Mike Conley and Javaris Crittenton combined for just 1 assist in 60 total minutes.



Gay 9-23 6-8 25, Miller 7-15 3-4 20, Milicic 2-4 1-4 5, Conley 3-10 3-4 9, Navarro 5-17 0-0 11, Lowry 2-4 4-4 8, Warrick 3-5 1-2 7, Crittenton 1-2 3-4 5, Collins 1-1 0-3 2, K.Brown 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 34-82 21-33 94.



Snyder 3-6 2-2 8, Gomes 2-12 10-10 14, Jefferson 10-16 9-12 29, Foye 4-12 2-2 12, Jaric 4-7 1-1 9, McCants 7-19 4-6 19, Brewer 1-3 1-2 3, Smith 1-7 0-0 2, Richard 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 33-84 29-35 98.

Memphis 28 24 16 26 — 94

Minnesota 23 15 24 36 — 98

3-Point Goals—Memphis 5-22 (Miller 3-5, Gay 1-7, Navarro 1-8, Conley 0-1, Lowry 0-1), Minnesota 3-11 (Foye 2-4, McCants 1-4, Gomes 0-1, Jaric 0-1, Snyder 0-1). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Memphis 62 (Warrick 11), Minnesota 55 (Jefferson 13). Assists—Memphis 9 (Warrick, Milicic 3), Minnesota 21 (Jaric 7). Total Fouls—Memphis 23, Minnesota 25. Technicals—Memphis defensive three second 2. A—12,666 (19,443).

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