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Walker sparks lowly T-Wolves past Pacers

Friday, December 21, 2007


AP Sports Writer

MINNEAPOLIS -- There's still a little shimmy left in Antoine Walker's shoulders.

Playing on a gimpy ankle, Walker made six 3-pointers and scored 23 points to help the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves comeback for a change in a 131-118 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night.

Al Jefferson scored 15 of his 29 points in the third quarter and added 13 rebounds and Sebastian Telfair had 27 points and 11 assists in all 48 minutes for the Timberwolves, who snapped a six-game losing streak and won just their fourth game of the season.

Mike Dunleavy had 30 points and six rebounds for the Pacers, who led by as many as 21 points in the first half before Walker ignited the Wolves.

After an ugly loss to Golden State on Wednesday, Minnesota coach Randy Wittman questioned his team's heart and perseverance, saying he was "begging" for leaders to emerge on a young team with the worst record in the league.

The Timberwolves' 22nd loss of the season seemed all but certain after a disastrous first quarter.

The pattern for the Timberwolves this season, especially at home, has been to jump out to a lead in the first quarter or half before blowing it late.

They took a slightly different tack Friday night, falling behind 40-20 in the first quarter and nearly getting booed off the floor for allowing the Pacers to shoot 75 percent.

Things looked really ominous 2 minutes into the second quarter when Jefferson took an inadvertent elbow from Jermaine O'Neal on the low block and had to leave to get stitches with the Wolves down 21 points.

But the Timberwolves responded without their best player, thanks in large part to Telfair's playground-style drives to the basket and Walker's sharp shooting.

The 12-year veteran's fourth 3-pointer of the half was a 26-footer from the elbow that capped a staggering 30-7 run for Minnesota. The colorful veteran did his trademark shimmy just after the ball swished through the net, bringing the crowd to its feet and giving the Wolves a 57-52 lead.

After allowing a season-high 40 points in the first quarter, the Wolves scored a season-high 40 in the second, and they didn't stop there.

The third quarter has been one of Minnesota's biggest road blocks this season. On Wednesday night, they led Golden State by eight points at halftime, but were outscored 37-17 in the third period and lost by 13.

Jefferson wouldn't allow a similar collapse this time.

He scored Minnesota's first eight points of the period and Gerald Green added 12 points to increase the lead.

The Pacers, who were looking for their first four-game winning streak since February of 2006, simply couldn't sustain their torrid start.

Kareem Rush had 14 points, but O'Neal managed just eight points and five rebounds in a momentum-stopping loss.


Pacers C David Harrison did not make the trip (back spasms). ... Wolves second-round pick Chris Richard got the first start of his career and had six rebounds in 18 minutes. ... Wolves guards Rashad McCants and Marko Jaric missed the game with the flu. ... Jamaal Tinsley returned for the Pacers after missing Wednesday night's game with a bruised thigh. He had eight points and 10 assists.

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