for this game

Jefferson's double-double powers Timberwolves past Grizzlies

Mar 20, 2008 - 5:09 AM By Peter Kapsner PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) - Following recent comments from their owner about certain members from his team "tanking" games at the end of last season, the Minnesota Timberwolves showed a repeat is not in the cards.

Jefferson had 29 points and 13 rebounds for the Timberwolves en route to a 98-94 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday.

The win comes amidst angry comments offered by Minnesota owner Glen Taylor, who was asked on Tuesday about this team's late-season performance last campaign.

Minnesota was widely accused of tanking in order to keep the conditional first-round pick it still owed the Los Angeles Clippers.

Taylor suggested the blame, however, be placed squarely on former Timberwolves star Kevin Garnett, who he accused of "tanking it" more than the rest of the team.

"The others guys still wanted to play. ... But (having Garnett decide to sit out the last five games) sure changed the team," he said.

Of course, Garnett was traded in the offseason to the Boston Celtics for a package of players which included Jefferson.

"There were two or three guys on (Jefferson) and they couldn't stop him tonight, so we just kept going to him," Minnesota guard Randy Foye said. "Whenever he gets going like that, you have to give him the ball every time. He is a force and one of the best power forwards in the game, so you have to keep feeding him the ball."

After opening the game with an 18-6 run in this one, fueled by seven early points from Mike Miller, the Grizzlies went on to a five-point, opening-quarter lead.

The Grizzlies managed to expand that lead to as many as 16 with an 11-1 run midway through the second quarter as they forced the Timberwolves into several turnovers, no offensive rebounds and no field goals during a four-minute stretch.

Minnesota shot a miserable 36 percent (16-for-45) overall in the first half - an effort which could have certainly inspired thoughts of another possible intentional late-season collapse.

"I didn't think we were ready to play in terms of what we had to do to win," Minnesota coach Randy Wittman said. "Our effort at both ends of the floor was as bad as it's been in awhile."

Things changed dramatically after the break, however, as Minnesota exploded with a 19-5 run to open the second half and cut the lead to two. The run was marked by nine points from Jefferson as well as his highlight-reel block of Rudy Gay's dunk attempt.

"Al's stepping up," Wittman said. "That's important, for him to continue to grow at that end. You guys all talk about his footwork and his quickness and his hands and his anticipation. That's all defense too."

After blocking four shots against the Clippers in a win on Monday, Jefferson continued his presence in the middle with two more against the Grizzlies.

The game was tight the rest of the way until Foye hit a jumper to give the Timberwolves the lead for good at 84-82. Ryan Gomes scored the next four points to spark an 8-3 run which helped Minnesota withstand a late five-point flurry from Gay in the last six seconds of the contest.

"We played bad in the first half and we didn't shoot the ball well," Foye said. "You're going to have games like that, but you have to win those games and we're definitely coming together as a team. We probably would've lost a game like that earlier in the season."

A candidate for the NBA's Most Improved Player, Gay continued his strong sophomore campaign with 25 points.