Wolves waste Jefferson's 36 points

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Timberwolves center Al Jefferson on Monday night ended what he called the "longest seven days of his life" by returning from his two-game team suspension for a drunken-driving arrest.

He made six of his first seven shots and scored 36 points — most by a Timberwolf this season — on a night when Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki sat early because of two quick fouls.

And still the Wolves never really had a chance.

The numbers that glared most obviously after Monday's contentious 125-112 loss to the Mavericks at Target Center were not these:

The Mavericks' 12th consecutive victory, a streak that roughly corresponds with their pre-trading deadline deal that brought Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood from Washington.


The Wolves' sixth consecutive loss, and the 12th and their last 13 games.

No, the most meaningful numbers were these after the Mavs swept the season series by beating the Wolves for the 18th time in their last 20 meetings:

26 and 9.

Those were the turnovers committed by each team, the 26 for the Wolves, the nine for the Mavs.

At one point on Monday night, the Wolves' turnovers outnumbered Dallas' 15 to 1, and still the Wolves were within a dozen points.

That was mostly because Jefferson was unstoppable in his return against a Mavericks team that had no answer for him, other than triple teams and Wolves coach Kurt Rambis' frequent substitution moves.

Butler tried.

Shawn Marion tried.


Nowitzki tried.

Together, the three of them combined to score 76 points — Marion 29, Nowitzki 24, Butler 23 — while Jefferson became the first Timberwolves player to reach 30 points this season.

Until Monday, no Timberwolf had scored more than Jonny Flynn's 29 points against Philadelphia in a Martin Luther King Day matinee victory in January.

Jefferson's return to action ended what he called a "very crazy time for me," referring to a suspension he termed "consequences for my actions, so I just had to deal with it."

"Actually, he has handled it very well," Rambis said. "I'm proud of him as a ballplayer in this organization and as a man. He owned up to his mistake. He apologized for it. He didn't try and shirk his responsibility. His didn't argue the suspension. He made a mistake and there are consequences for that mistake. He has done everything as accurately and correctly as you could want under the circumstances."

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