108 - 109 Final - OT
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Timberwolves spot Bulls early lead, win in overtime

Jan 26, 2009 - 4:22 AM MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Al Jefferson and the Minnesota Timberwolves overcame a slow start Sunday night to continue their winning ways.

Jefferson bounced back from a quiet first quarter to score a season-high 39 points and the Timberwolves overcame a 16-point deficit en route to a 109-108 overtime win over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday.

Kevin Love scored 14 of his season-high 19 points in the fourth quarter and overtime while grabbing 15 rebounds as Minnesota won for the ninth time in 11 games.

"At one point in time, I just didn't see any defense, I just got in one of my little zones and I just took it to them," Jefferson said.

After Jefferson finished off a 9-2 run and sent the game into overtime tied at 97-97 on a tip-in with 23 seconds left in regulation, Randy Foye ended a back-and-forth extra period by banking a driving layup high off the glass with 41 seconds left to make the score 109-108.

Derrick Rose's leaner bounced off the rim in the final seconds and both Aaron Gray and Luol Deng missed opportunities to tip in the game-winner before the ball bounced out of bounds to Minnesota with seven-tenths of a second left.

"The execution just was not there," Chicago coach Vinny Del Negro said. "He (Rose) didn't keep his dribble and we have worked on that. Derrick came off and he had to make a play, he wasn't able to do it, picked up his dribble and it cost us. We had a couple tips at the end but were not able to convert."

The teams exchanged the lead several times in overtime, with Chicago taking its final advantage when Andres Nocioni made 1-of-2 free throws with 49 seconds left. But Foye, who was only 1-of-10 from the field in regulation, drove the lane for the game-winner.

"I don't know how we won that game," Minnesota coach Kevin McHale said. "We just kept digging around and fighting and Big Al (Jefferson) was tremendous and Kevin Love was just outstanding out there."

Ben Gordon led six players in double figures for Chicago with 23 while Deng added 22 and Rose collected 18 and seven assists.

Things were not pretty early for the Timberwolves, who were held without a field goal for the first 6:39 of the game, missing their first 11 attempts as the Bulls opened a 20-4 advantage.

Jefferson scored just two points in the first quarter but would gain momentum in the second-half despite solid defense from Joakim Noah for most of the night. Noah set a career high with seven blocks while collecting 14 points and 10 boards.

"I don't know what to say. I was playing as hard as I could," Noah said. "He just kept scoring the ball. He's just a great offensive player, and we just couldn't slow him down tonight."

Rodney Carney scored seven straight points during a 10-0 run that tied the game at 37-37 midway through the second quarter. Minnesota tied the game on three other occasions but was unable to take the lead as Chicago took a 55-49 lead into halftime.

"We were playing one of our worst halves of the season," Love said.

"We got off to a terrible start, in the second half we were a little slow but picked it up at the end of the third quarter and into the fourth. Our second unit brought us back into the game and I thought we played great."

Minnesota took its first lead, 58-57, on a short jumper by Craig Smith with 8:17 left in the third. Jefferson scored the last 12 points of the quarter for the Timberwolves, who trailed 82-77 entering the fourth and did not lead for the remainder of regulation.

"Obviously the in-game situations has been the problem and that was the case tonight," Del Negro said. "We couldn't convert down the stretch in regulation and then in OT we had a couple of plays where we just couldn't get the ball in the basket."