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Jefferson scores 40 as Timberwolves down Nets

Jan 28, 2008 - 3:36 AM MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- The Minnesota Timberwolves proved to have the best Jefferson on Sunday night.

Al Jefferson scored a career-high 40 points and grabbed 19 rebounds to lead the Timberwolves to a stunning comeback win, 98-95, over Richard Jefferson and the New Jersey Nets.

Trailing, 95-88, after Vince Carter's jumper with 1:19 left in the game, Minnesota scored the final 10 points of the contest to send the Nets to their ninth straight defeat.

"It was my career high, so I guess it was the best game I've ever played," Jefferson said. "I just set an example for my teammates to go out there and play hard. As a leader, they see me doing it and they come right behind me and back me up."

Al Jefferson converted four free throws in the final 11 seconds to clinch the win.

The 23-year-old power forward - the main piece that came back to the Timberwolves in the Kevin Garnett trade - is stating his case for a reserve spot of the Western Conference All-Star team with his impressive play of late.

Al Jefferson, who is one of only five players in the league to average a double-double in points and rebounds so far this season, topped his previous career high of 39 which he set just two games back against Phoenix.

"It's amazing to see that he's able to play like this consecutively and without any hesitation," Minnesota guard Rashad McCants said. "I think that's the one thing about Al that the league doesn't know - he's going to do it every night."

Nets coach Lawrence Frank was impressed with (Al) Jefferson's recent play.

"He dominated that game, even though we were double-teaming him," Frank said. "His ability to get second opportunities off his own misses, at times, hurt us."

New Jersey grabbed its first lead of the contest at 6-5 in the first quarter and held it until Al Jefferson's second free throw with 11 seconds to play.

"In their last 10 possessions, I think they scored eight times," Frank said. "You've got to give Minnesota a lot of credit, but we didn't help ourselves."

Richard Jefferson set the tone for the Nets, pouring in 35 points on 11-of-22 shooting, scoring 19 in the first half to pace his team to a 48-38 advantage at the break.

"(Richard) Jefferson is a big guy." Wolves coach Randy Wittman said. "He can go all the way out to 3 and we saw him shoot it and he can post up - which he tried to do with Rashad (McCants) on him."

But it was also Richard Jefferson who committed the first foul on Al Jefferson, allowing the Timberwolves to take the lead after McCants and Ryan Gomes had hit 3-pointers to cut the deficit to 95-94 with 40 seconds left.

"Our guys are growing and learning, a month ago this is a game that we wouldn't have won." Wittman said. "We are having guys step up, trying to make plays."

Carter finished with 25 points for New Jersey, which allowed 34 points in the fourth quarter.








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