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Jefferson's career night buries Suns

Jan 24, 2008 - 5:35 AM MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Al Jefferson stunned the Phoenix Suns yet again.

Al Jefferson scored 24 of his career-high 39 points in the first half and grabbed 15 rebounds to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 117-107 victory over the Western Conference-leading Suns on Wednesday.

Jefferson, who scored a then career-high 32 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in a 100-93 win over Phoenix on December 8, helped the Timberwolves (7-34) win two straight for the first time since February 14-15, 2007.

"Against Phoenix, I knew I could attack and get easy points," Jefferson said. "Plus, they double-team, so it's a matter of moving the ball."

Ryan Gomes scored a career-high 35 points in a 109-108 win over Golden State on Tuesday. One night later, it was Jefferson's turn.

"We know what Big Al is going to give us," Minnesota guard Sebastian Telfair said. "If he comes in and does what he does every night, and we do our part, then we have an opportunity to win."

The fourth-year big man shot 15-of-29 from the floor, including several key shots down the stretch that helped the Timberwolves hold off the Suns' late run.

"They played extremely well," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "I think they have turned some kind of a corner."

Phoenix, which had its four-game winning streak snapped, had been getting by with less than its best effort. On Tuesday, the Suns struggled with the Milwaukee Bucks before pulling away for a 114-105 win.

"We have it, but it's just a matter if we are gritty enough to do it every game," D'Antoni said. "So far, we haven't demonstrated that. We are good but we haven't demonstrated the grit necessary to be the best."

Two-time MVP Steve Nash, who scored a season-high 37 points in that game, finished with 21 points and 16 assists. Amare Stoudemire carried the Suns with 33 points, while Raja Bell chipped in 18.

Still, it wasn't enough for Phoenix, which was outrebounded, 48-26, and, 23-3, on the offensive glass.

"You shoot 56 percent and don't win," D'Antoni said. "That's a crime, but that's the way it went."

Minnesota used a 21-11 run midway through the second quarter and took a 65-50 lead into halftime. The lead swelled to 15 points at the nine-minute mark of the final quarter at 92-77.

However, Nash pulled the Suns to within 98-87 with a layup, but Jefferson scored seven straight points to help the Timberwolves take a 105-92 lead with 3:53 left.

Phoenix trailed by double digits for most of the final period, and could get not closer than seven points at 114-107 with 21 seconds to play.

"We've seen what it takes to win," Jefferson said. "We've done it for three straight games. We didn't win (two games ago) in Denver, but we should have. We're playing great ball."

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