for this game

McCants, Jefferson help Timberwolves pile on Heat

Jan 9, 2008 - 4:59 AM MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Things cannot get much worse for the Miami Heat.

Rashad McCants scored 27 points and Al Jefferson added 18 as the Minnesota Timberwolves snapped an eight-game skid with a 101-91 victory over the woeful Heat on Tuesday.

Miami, which was without Shaquille O'Neal (hip bursitis) for a sixth straight game, has dropped eight in a row.

Minnesota (5-29), which had all five starters score in double figures, outscored Miami, 36-20, in the paint and set a season high with 29 assists.

"Tonight showed that if we go out, play as a team, play together, go out and make a run, instead of putting our heads down then we can come out with a victory," Jefferson said.

"We miss the big man in the middle," said rookie Heat guard Daequan Cook, who scored 15 points off the bench. "We miss him a lot because he is the key to this team. To play without him puts a lot of pressure on us and tonight we couldn't deliver."

O'Neal is in Los Angeles receiving treatment and is expected back next week.

Miami guard Dwyane Wade scored 17 of his 25 points in the first half despite being physically beat up. He also added seven assists and five rebounds.

Earlier in the day, according to multiple reports, it was revealed that the three-time All-Star's surgically repaired left shoulder is worse than expected and he has nerve damage.

The 2006 Finals MVP's gritty effort could not keep the Heat from trailing most of the game. He also picked up his fourth foul with 9:15 left in the fourth.

"He got in foul trouble, picked up his fourth foul," Heat coach Riley said. "We ask him to do a lot but I don't think he was impacted by it (the injury) tonight."

McCants scored 18 points in the first half as the Timberwolves held a 59-47 lead after two periods. Minnesota led by 11 points after three periods and held a double-digit lead for most of the fourth quarter.

"Basically the game plan was to be aggressive," McCants said. "I think coach (Randy) Wittman is giving me the opportunity to be aggressive, get my teammates involved and be a complete player."

Miami tried to rally, using a 9-3 run to cut its deficit to 97-91 on a layup by Wade with 2:35 to play. The Heat had a chance to cut it to four points on the ensuing possesion, but Wade dribbled the ball off his foot and out of bounds.

Jefferson, who also had 10 rebounds, then bulled his way inside and scored to stretch the lead to 99-91 with 1:17 left.

Marko Jaric, who scored 17 points, then put the nail in the coffin with a long jumper with 26 seconds left for the final margin.

"I'm trying to set mini goals for these guys," Wittman said. "One of our mini goals is to be able to win two games in a row. That's our next step."

That could be a difficult step, though, for Minnesota. Up next: at Houston on Friday.

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