MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -Minnesota Timberwolves center Al Jefferson had just finished practice on Thursday when he got a call from his agent.
He was awaiting word on whether he would be named as a reserve on the Western Conference All-Star team, yet there wasn't as much anxiousness as one would expect from a 24-year-old who had never made the team.
``I kind of had a feeling,'' Jefferson said Friday before the Timberwolves hosted the Los Angeles Lakers.
And it wasn't a good one.
Just as he suspected, Jeff Schwartz told Jefferson that he was not voted on to the team by the West's coaches despite being one of only three players in the NBA to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.
me to move on.''
A center in a power forward's body, the Timberwolves were hoping a relative dearth at the position, combined with impressive statistics and a very successful January for the team, would be enough to get Jefferson in.
Entering Friday night's game against the Lakers, Jefferson led the team with 22.7 points and 10.5 rebounds. He ranked eighth in the league in scoring - tops among all centers - and seventh in rebounds, which is higher than any center that will play in Phoenix on Feb. 15.
Yet the Western Conference coaches decided to go with Shaquille O'Neal to back up starter Yao Ming. O'Neal averages 18.1 points and 9.0 rebounds and has played seven fewer games than Jefferson. But the decision came as little surprise given the game will be played on O'Neal's home court in Phoenix and Shaq has been one of the league's best and most popular players for more than a decade.
``Everybody makes one they don't deserve late and everybody misses one they do deserve early,'' Wolves coach Kevin McHale said, speaking in general terms and not about O'Neal specifically. ``That's just the way it works with the All-Star game.''
ittle, too late for his All-Star chances.
``If you ask me, I feel like the All-Star team was made two months ago,'' he said. ``They already knew who they were going to pick. It has nothing to do with how great we've been playing. We just need to focus on the other team and get as many wins as we can possibly get.''
It was the latest disappointing news in a week full of it for the Wolves. Rookie Kevin Love, despite leading all rookies in rebounds and the entire league in offensive rebounds per 48 minutes, was left off the roster for the NBA rookie challenge against the sophomores on Saturday.
``Guys are really upset about that,'' point guard Sebastian Telfair said. ``That wasn't right. One of them should have got in, if not both. ... It's a sad thing they didn't make it.''
In a profession where athletes often search high and low for chips to place on their shoulders for motivation, Jefferson thinks he was just handed a boulder by the rest of the West.
``I made that clear two weeks ago,'' he said. ``If I don't make it, it's going to be clearly motivation.''
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