Timberwolves Playoff Hopes Take Hit with Al Jefferson Suspension

Zeke FuhrmanAnalyst IIIMarch 1, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - FEBRUARY 08:  Al Jefferson #25 of the Minnesota Timberwolves makes a shot over David West #30 of the New Orleans Hornets on February 8, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Hornets defeated the Timberwolves 101-97.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Last December, Minnesota Vikings stars Adrian Peterson and Bernard Berrian were both pulled over on I-694 going 109 and 104 mph, respectively.

Early Sunday morning, Al Jefferson became the latest Minnesota star to be pulled over for speeding, after a 110-91 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Jefferson was pulled over going 56 in a 40, but the State Patrol lieutenant was a little more suspicious of Jefferson's inability to stay in his lane and his lane change without the use of his blinker.

Lt. Eric Roeske pulled Jefferson's Range Rover over on I-394 near Dunwoody Boulevard at 1:08 a.m, three hours after Jefferson scored 19 points in his team's losing effort.

Jefferson failed a sobriety test and was booked on a charge of fourth-degree DWI.

The charge hit home with longtime Timberwolves fans, as it has been almost ten years since Wolves guard Malik Sealy was killed by a drunk driver while driving home from Kevin Garnett's birthday party. Sealy's No. 2 is the lone number retired by the ballclub.

Jefferson is the fourth NBA player to be arrested for DWI this season: Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph, Denver Nuggets forward Renaldo Balkman, and Sacramento Kings forward Andres Nocioni have all faced similiar charges this season. Randolph and Balkman also served two game suspensions, and Nocioni has yet to be punished pending further legal action.

Jefferson issued a written apology to owner Glen Mason, GM David Kahn, the coaching staff, teammates, and "Wolves fans everywhere."

The organization accepted Jefferson's apology but still suspended him for two games, a suspension that will cost Big Al almost $293,000 in game checks.

Things don't get any easier for the Wolves. Thirteen of their next 14 opponents are fighting for playoff spots and will rely on new acquisition Darko Milicic to take Jefferson's minutes.

Milicic has been a pleasant suprise since being acquired from the New York Knicks. Milicic has averaged 20 minutes per game, five rebounds, and two blocks coming off the bench.

The Timberwolves (14-47) play in the most competative division in the NBA. Of the five teams in the Northwest Conference, four teams would make the playoffs if the season ended today. The team ahead of the Wolves in the standing, the Trail Blazers, are 35-27, are only 5.5 games out of first place, and would be the eighth seed in the playoffs.

The Wolves are 26.5 games out of first place but are only 20.5 games out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoffs with 22 games left.