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Jefferson, Timberwolves rout Knicks, snap 13-game skid

Dec 27, 2008 - 5:45 AM By Larry Fleisher PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW YORK (Ticker) -- At some point, the Minnesota Timberwolves were going to win a game. That instance happened Friday when they encountered an unprepared opponent.

Rashad McCants scored a season-high 23 points as the Timberwolves snapped a 13-game losing streak with a 120-107 victory over the New York Knicks.

Al Jefferson added 21 points for Minnesota, which led by as many as 22 and won for the first time in nine games under coach Kevin McHale.

"It was fun," Minnesota guard Randy Foye said. "That was the funnest basketball game I played in a long time."

New York native Sebastian Telfair contributed 13 of his 20 points in the fourth and Foye chipped in 19 for Minnesota, which shot 51 percent (38-of-74), including 13-of-24 on 3-pointers.

"Coming into this game in the locker room, we said we were going to do anything to win this game," Telfair said. "That was going to be the stand."

The Timberwolves improved to 5-23 and snapped their longest single-season skid since March 1992 when they lost 16 straight. This one came after they saw fourth-quarter comebacks fall short in losses to San Antonio and Houston.

"Tonight feels good," McHale said. "The guys have been playing hard the last few games. They just haven't been able to close them out. The guys have been playing hard and needed that one."

Minnesota came into the contest averaging 94 points and shooting just 31 percent from beyond the arc but found many wide open opportunities especially when Jefferson was triple-teamed.

The last time Minnesota won was at Oklahoma City on November 28, when Mike Miller hit the game-winning jumper with one-tenth of a second remaining.

The Wolves did not have to worry about compensating for Miller - who sat out with an ankle injury - or a last-second shot in this one.

After allowing the Knicks to get within six early in the third, Minnesota surged ahead again. The Timberwolves outscored New York, 31-20, and took a 94-75 lead into the fourth.

Despite that, Jefferson still pulled down 15 rebounds and also took over in the third during Minnesota's 11-1 spurt.

While Jefferson was having his way, McCants had plenty of space to sink three of his career-best seven 3-pointers late in the third as Minnesota outscored New York, 31-20, and took a 94-75 lead into the fourth.

"We were making shots," Jefferson said. "When they made a run, we didn't put our heads down. We just kept playing."

The same cannot be said for the Knicks, who allowed over 120 points for the second straight contest.

"They just stood there and took wide-open shots," New York coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We just were really bad defensively.

"Whatever reason, we just didn't play hard enough. We didn't close out. We didn't do the schemes we talked about and we just made stuff up."

Al Harrington and Nate Robinson scored 26 points apiece for the Knicks, who dropped their fifth straight and saw a mini fourth-quarter comeback fall short, leading to their third straight double-digit setback.

"I just don't think we came prepared to play from the beginning," New York point guard Chris Duhon said. "Even though we started off pretty well defensively, we were just horrible the whole time."

Despite being outplayed most of the night, New York was still within striking distance in the fourth. The Knicks got it under double digits on Nate Robinson's three-point play with 5:23 remaining.

New York was within 106-99 on Jared Jeffries' putback with 4:36 left, but Ryan Gomes hit a 3-pointer on Minnesota's next trip and Craig Smith converted a three-point play with 3:40 left, sending many fans to the exits.

"The better team won," Robinson said. "I can't even pinpoint it. They just outplayed us tonight."

If losing to one of the worst teams in the league at home was not bad enough for the Knicks, their second straight ugly home loss featured a painful injury to Duhon.

Duhon had his right eye bloodied with 4:13 remaining when McCants elbowed him. He needed nine stitches before returning in the third quarter but D'Antoni shut him down in the fourth.

Duhon's return did nothing to help New York get going offensively as it shot under 39 percent percent (35-of-90), including 11-of-30 from three.

Minnesota never trailed after scoring 38 points in the second quarter. The Wolves surged ahead with a 25-8 run that gave them an 18-point lead before Harrington scored nine straight points to get New York within 63-55 at halftime.

  • ** CONFIRMED **

    Dec 26 10:05 PM

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