Telfair had a career-high 30 points and eight assists, Ryan Gomes added 20 points, and the Minnesota Timberwolves spoiled O'Neal's debut in Miami by hitting a season-high 14 3-pointers and beating the Heat 111-104 on Wednesday night.
Minnesota blew an 11-point lead with 10 minutes remaining, but recovered in time largely thanks to Telfair, who hit a 3-pointer with 1:26 left for a four-point lead -- and the Timberwolves held on to snap a five-game slide.
"I had everything going for me out there tonight," Telfair said. "Some nights are like that."
Dwyane Wade finished with 37 points and 12 assists for Miami. Udonis Haslem added 17 points for the Heat, and O'Neal -- who sustained a right eye injury in the third quarter and missed 13 minutes before returning late -- had 13 in his first game since being acquired from Toronto last week.
"I would not have scripted this for my first game," said O'Neal, who still had some blurred vision after the game. "Absolutely not."
Mario Chalmers scored 12 points for Miami, including a 3-pointer with 2:28 left to give Miami a 99-97 lead.
The Heat wouldn't be on top again.
Randy Foye took a pass from Telfair and hit a 3 on the next Minnesota trip, Telfair added with another shot from beyond the arc 30 seconds later, and that essentially sealed it for the Timberwolves -- who outrebounded Miami by a staggering 49-24 margin.
"I don't think we impacted them defensively the entire game," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "They absolutely annihilated us on the backboard."
O'Neal only had one rebound, and wasn't thrilled with himself about that.
"I don't care if I'm on only one leg," he said. "I should never grab only one rebound."
Kevin Love had 16 points and nine rebounds for Minnesota. Foye had 14 points for the Timberwolves, who also got seven points, nine rebounds and nine assists from Mike Miller and 10 rebounds off the bench from Brian Cardinal.
Minnesota tried to throw the knockout blows -- two of them -- in the third quarter.
First, that was when Miller charged into James Jones on a drive and collided with O'Neal's face. O'Neal remained down for a few moments, then went into the locker room with a towel absorbing a bit of blood that dripped from his nose.
About a minute later, Jones' night ended when he needed X-rays for what was diagnosed as a bruised right hand.
Meanwhile, the Timberwolves weren't feeling any pain.
They had 36 points, their biggest quarter in their last six games, in the period and when Wade missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer Minnesota took an 82-73 lead into the fourth.
"The guys showed a lot of grit. The team found a way to hang in there," Minnesota coach Kevin McHale said. "They made runs at us but in the end we were able to withstand it. And had we not turned it over, then I think it wouldn't have been that close a game."
It was 86-75 with 10 minutes left, before Miami suddenly sprung to life with a 12-0 run.
And when Wade had consecutive driving baskets, the game was knotted at 91 with five minutes remaining. But Gomes hit a 3-pointer -- the Timberwolves' best friend in this one - to put Minnesota back in the lead.
"It's a terrible loss," Wade said.
At first, it seemed as if O'Neal's debut would be an easy one.
Newly crowned NBA 3-point shootout champion Daequan Cook closed the first quarter with a 3-pointer, and the Heat had an early 31-20 lead.
Miami missed nine of its first 11 shots in the second quarter, and the game swiftly changed. Telfair hit a 3-pointer with 4:10 left in the half and the Timberwolves went up 40-39, before Miami wound up taking a 49-46 lead into the break.
Minnesota shot 60 percent in the second half, and afterward, Telfair said something McHale said in a breakfast meeting Wednesday morning sunk in.
"He asked us if we were going to be pros or punks," Telfair said. "We decided to be pros."
|Jermaine O'Neal is productive in his Heat debut until he exits after taking an elbow to the eye. (Getty Images)|
|Minnesota (18-35) «||20||26||36||29||111|
|MIN:S. Telfair 30 Pts
MIN:B. Cardinal 10 Reb
MIN:M. Miller 9 Ast
|MIA:D. Wade 37 Pts
MIA:U. Haslem 6 Reb
MIA:D. Wade 12 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|S. Telfair, PG||44||7-14||10-10||1||8||5||30|
|M. Miller, SF||37||2-4||2-3||9||9||1||7|
|R. Gomes, PF||37||8-14||1-2||7||2||2||20|
|K. Love, PF||31||6-10||4-4||9||0||2||16|
|R. Foye, PG||25||6-12||0-0||2||4||4||14|
|R. Carney, SF||29||1-3||2-2||2||0||2||5|
|B. Cardinal, PF||17||2-3||2-2||10||1||2||7|
|C. Smith, PF||13||4-7||2-4||5||0||1||10|
|J. Collins, C||8||1-2||0-2||4||0||1||2|
|K. Ollie, PG||Did Not Play|
|C. Booth, C||Did Not Play|
|M. Madsen, PF||Did Not Play|
|A. Jefferson, PF||Did Not Play|
|R. McCants, SG||Did Not Play|
|C. Brewer, SF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|D. Wade, SG||43||12-22||12-13||4||12||2||37|
|U. Haslem, PF||39||7-12||3-4||6||1||3||17|
|J. O'Neal, PF||27||6-9||1-2||1||2||2||13|
|M. Chalmers, PG||24||4-6||2-2||3||3||6||12|
|J. Jones, SF||17||0-4||0-0||2||0||2||0|
|D. Cook, SG||31||3-10||0-0||4||0||2||8|
|C. Quinn, PG||24||2-8||1-1||1||0||1||5|
|M. Beasley, PF||18||4-10||0-0||1||0||2||8|
|J. Anthony, C||12||0-0||4-4||1||1||3||4|
|J. Moon, SG||5||0-0||0-0||1||0||0||0|
|M. Blount, C||Did Not Play|
|J. Magloire, C||Did Not Play|
|D. Wright, SF||Did Not Play|
|Y. Diawara, SG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|