Timberwolves use late review to hand Nets eighth straight loss

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In a season in which the breaks haven't gone their way, the Minnesota Timberwolves got a little lucky against the New Jersey Nets.

Al Jefferson scored a season-high 27 points and the Timberwolves got a favorable videotape review in the final minute to defeat the Nets 103-99 on Wednesday night in the battle of the NBA's two worst teams.

In a game that seesawed in the fourth quarter, the big play was an instant replay with 26 seconds to play and the Wolves clinging to a 99-97 lead.

Minnesota inbounded the ball near halfcourt and the pass went to Corey Brewer. Devin Harris and Courtney Lee double-teammed him and Lee hit the ball out of Brewer's hands and out of bounds.

The officials originally called it out off Brewer and the Nets called timeout and went to their bench to set up a play.

The officials then went to the scorer's table and watched videotape replays and it clearly showed the ball went out off Lee, so they overturned the call and awarded the ball to Minnesota.

"We were extremely fortunate," Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis said. "It doesn't mean that we wouldn't have played defense and got a stop, but we were finally the benefactor of the new rule. It turned out to be a huge play. It was the first time that a call like that went in our favor."

Brewer, who had 17 points, was immediately fouled on the ensuing inbounds play and made two free throws for a 101-97 lead.

"I knew it wasn't off me," Brewer said. "I told the ref that it couldn't be off me, because I got hit. It was really big to have them change the call. And then I made the free throws to give us a four-point lead. We needed all of those plays because we needed this win."

Harris hit a layup for New Jersey on its next possession to cut the lead to two points, but Damien Wilkins converted two free throws with 17.4 seconds to play and the Nets wasted the final 16 seconds, getting a shot by Yi Jianlian near the buzzer.

"I thought we caught a break on that side out of bounds but the refs overturned it, so that was a tough play," said Harris, who led the Nets with 23 points. "We kept putting ourselves in position. You only have so much fight until time runs out and that's literally what it did in the final 16 seconds."

Jonny Flynn added 22 points and Kevin Love had 13 points and 16 rebounds as Minnesota (6-24) swept the two-game season series and sent New Jersey (2-27) to its eighth straight loss.

Yi returned to the lineup after missing seven weeks with a sprained knee and had 22, while Lee had 20.

The Timberwolves appeared to take command early in the fourth quarter. Jefferson, who scored 20 points in the second half, hit four baskets and the Wolves hit eight of their first 11 shots in a 16-8 spurt that gave them a 92-82 lead.

"That's the Al I want to see," Rambis said. "He made outside shots and was aggressive going to the basket. He was forcing their defense to change direction and then was quick getting his shot off. When he does that, he's tough to defend."

After falling behind by 10, New Jersey ran off eight straight points to draw within 92-90 on a 3-pointer by Yi with 3:17 to play.

Jefferson, who had gone to the bench with his fifth foul during the Nets' run, came back in and hit a shot in the lane for a 94-90 lead with 2:46 to go.

A 3-pointer by Keyon Dooling got the Nets within a point and they had a chance to take the lead after a Jefferson miss led to a Nets' fastbreak.

Flynn, however, stole a pass from Harris on a four-on-two. Flynn was fouled by Harris on the break the other way and made one free throw for a 95-93 lead. Jefferson followed with another basket with 1:28 to play after Dooling walked.

Lee got the Nets within a point with a 3-pointer with 1:03 to play, but Brewer hit a floater to push the lead to 99-96 with 39 seconds to play.

A free throw by Brook Lopez closed the gap to two points with 28.3 seconds to go, but Minnesota got the favorable replay call.

"They put the instant replay system in to get calls right, so they made the right call," said Dooling, who had a season-high 12 points.

Flynn had an outstanding first half, scoring 17 points and helping the Timberwolves build a 50-39 lead late in the second quarter.

However, Dooling hit a 3-pointer and scored another basket on a goaltending call in a 9-2 spurt that got the Nets within 52-48 at intermission.

Game notes
Minnesota forward Ryan Gomes missed his sixth straight game with a sprained left ankle. ... Lopez was scoreless in the first half for the first time this season. He finished with nine points, 10 rebounds and a season-high seven assists. The nine points was his lowest outing since Nov. 24 when he had five against the Denver Nuggets... New Jersey was 9-of-17 from 3-point range. ... Minnesota rallied from a 19-point second-half deficit in beating New Jersey in the season opener.