for this game

Gomes, Jefferson lead Timberwolves past Bulls

Jan 31, 2008 - 5:25 AM MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Ryan Gomes and the Minnesota Timberwolves righted the ship after matching a franchise record for futility early on.

Gomes scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Timberwolves posted an 83-67 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday in the finale of a home-and-home series.

Al Jefferson had 26 points and 20 rebounds and Sebastian Telfair handed out 10 assists for Minnesota, which has won three straight at home after beginning the season 4-14 at the Target Center.

"I think we're being more aggressive now," Gomes said. "Everyone's contributing. When coach (Randy Wittman) calls your number, you have to be ready to play whether you're starting or coming off the bench."

The Timberwolves, who have won three straight and nine of 10 here vs. the Bulls, won this contest despite a horrific first quarter.

Minnesota scored just eight points in the opening period to tie the dubious first-quarter club record of just eight points accrued against the Toronto Raptors on March 24, 2006.

"It wasn't pretty, but we'll take an ugly win over a pretty defeat any day," Wittman said.

It could have been worse for the Timberwolves, but the Bulls only put up 14 points before the start of the second period.

"We just didn't make any shots," Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich said. "We tried to make a run and really dig in defensively, and they started getting offensive rebounds, and Jefferson started going a little bit. It just wasn't NBA basketball out there for us tonight."

An 8-0 run to begin the second quarter actually gave Minnesota a 16-14 advantage just 68 seconds into the period.

Gomes, who connected on 10-of-20 from the floor, scored 10 in the second to keep the Timberwolves close, 34-33, at halftime. He then put up an additional 10 in the third as Minnesota took a 63-54 advantage into the final quarter.

"Basically, they had two guys that dominated the game," Bulls interim coach Jim Boylan said. "Jefferson had 19 (points) and eight (rebounds) in the second half and Gomes was solid throughout the game.

"We held those two guys in check (Tuesday) and we didn't get that done (Wednesday)."

Jefferson, who shot 12-of-24, added eight in the third for the Timberwolves and collected his third 20-point, 20-rebound game of the campaign.

It was a much better performance by Jefferson against Chicago center Ben Wallace, who held him to 20 points, including 15 until the final minutes in a 96-85 victory by the Bulls on Tuesday.

"I thought Ben played him (Jefferson) pretty well in the first half," Boylan said. "He held him pretty well in check. But it is a lot of pressure on Ben to shut him down completely. Quite honestly, our help defense was terrible in the second half. If you don't help on a guy like (Jefferson), he's going to score."

Minnesota, which shot jut 37 percent (34-of-93), produced its largest margin of victory in any game this season.

"I think we're learning how to play with each other a little bit more than in the beginning of the season," Gomes said. "We know that Al is going to get the ball a lot and we have to figure out how to create spacing that will give him opportunities. If they do double-team, we have to get in a open spot for him to see us."

Hinrich and Thabo Sefolosha each had 14 points for Chicago, which shot a miserable 33 percent (23-of-69) and produced its lowest point total of the season.

"We found it really difficult to find any sort of offense out there," Boylan said. "You scratch your head sometimes. Our ball-handling was really poor and turnovers hurt us.

"When you play back-to-back games against the same team, there's a certain mental approach to the game that is necessary, and we didn't bring that tonight."

The Bulls continued to play without leading scorers Ben Gordon (wrist) and Luol Deng (Achilles tendinitis), as well as starting power forward Joe Smith (flu).

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