Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 11/23

Game 1: Tuesday, November 23rd
Game 2: Friday, January 21st
Game 3: Friday, February 25th
Game 4: Sunday, April 17th

SuperSonics 109


Timberwolves 94

(42-38, 23-17 home)

    2:30 PM ET, April 17, 2005

    Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

    1 2 3 4 T
    SEA 27 28 32 22109
    MIN 24 26 20 2494

    Top Performers

    Sea: R. Allen 34 Pts, 10 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl

    Min: L. Sprewell 20 Pts, 2 Reb, 5 Ast

    Wolves make one late run -- to no avail

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Timberwolves spent a week on the brink of playoff elimination.

    Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis ended the suspense.

    Allen scored 34 points and Lewis added 28 to lead the Seattle SuperSonics to a 109-94 victory Sunday, eliminating the Wolves from the playoff race and giving Memphis the final Western Conference spot.

    "It's tough to put into words [to describe] a lot of what went on this year," said Wally Szczerbiak, who scored 16 points. "We tried to make a comeback down the stretch, but it just wasn't in the cards."

    Since last Sunday, a Memphis win or a Timberwolves loss would have snapped Minnesota's streak of consecutive playoff appearances at eight seasons.

    The Timberwolves, the top seed in the West last season, beat Golden State and Utah last week while Memphis lost to Denver, San Antonio and Houston. On Sunday, the Wolves' luck ran out.

    "Everybody's disappointed," coach Kevin McHale said. "You can't come into the season with the expectation level we had and then have the season we had."

    The Timberwolves entered the season with sky-high expectations, given that nearly everyone was back from the team that lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals last year.

    But they never could find the same magic, leading McHale to fire college buddy Flip Saunders as coach in February in an effort to turn things around. The move paid only a small dividend, as the Timberwolves continued to play far below their potential.

    "We were victims of our own success," Kevin Garnett said before resisting the urge to make spot judgments after such a disappointing loss. "I'm kind of frustrated right now, so I don't like to answer from the heart at this point. It's been a hard year."

    Garnett was just 5-of-14 from the field against the Sonics and the Timberwolves made only 16 of 25 foul shots and were outscored 58-40 in the paint.

    Latrell Sprewell led the Wolves with 20 points and Garnett finished with 17.

    Behind Lewis and Allen, the Sonics built a big lead, shooting 55 percent in the first three quarters to go up 87-70.

    A prime example of the Timberwolves' puzzling and disappointing season came with time winding down in the third quarter.

    McHale wanted his team to take the last shot of the period, but Sam Cassell put up a shot with over 8 seconds left. The shot missed and Seattle raced back the other way, getting a 26-footer from Allen to take an 87-70 lead into the final period.

    McHale berated the team on the bench, hurling expletives and then staring blankly at a team that looked uninspired despite the desperate circumstances.

    The pep talk didn't work.

    Allen started the fourth with a dunk and another jumper for a 21-point lead as boos rained down from the Target Center crowd.

    Minnesota did battle back, going on a 16-2 run to cut the deficit to 93-88, but they couldn't come up with timely free throws or stops on the defensive end down the stretch.

    Lewis threw down a tomahawk dunk then hit a 3-pointer to push the lead back to 105-94 with just over two minutes to play, ensuring that neither team from last season's Western Conference finals would be in the playoffs this year.

    "I thought we did some good things today," said Nate McMillan, one of the leading candidates for coach of the year. "We came out and played our game. We worked hard physically, pushed the ball and in transition we showed great ball movement."

    The Sonics' success this season has been as surprising as the Timberwolves' struggles.

    With homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs already clinched, the Sonics were merely tuning up while looking to regain the form that led to a surprising Northwest Division title.

    Seattle snapped a six-game losing streak with a win over New Orleans on Friday, and McMillan said he wants to see his team gather some momentum before the playoffs begin.

    "We've been struggling the last couple of weeks, and after beating New Orleans and now these guys, we're just trying to get our rhythym back for the playoffs," said guard Luke Ridnour, who had 10 points and 11 assists.

    While Seattle is getting ready for the playoffs, the Timberwolves were left to contemplate what's next.

    McHale has said he is not suited for the coaching profession and will look elsewhere for a permanent replacement to Saunders.

    After the game Szczerbiak, who has been the subject of trade rumors for most of his career, all but demanded to be a starter next season and said he wouldn't mind being traded.

    But Garnett said it was too soon to make judgments about the long-term future of the franchise.

    "It's not the time to be pointing fingers," Garnett said. "Everybody from the [front office] to the players has to look at themselves."

    Game notes

    Sonics F Reggie Evans received a technical foul in the first quarter for hanging on the rim. ... Sonics F Danny Fortson got a technical for arguing with an official in the fourth quarter. ... Minnesota finishes out the season at New Orleans on Monday then hosts San Antonio in the season finale on Wednesday. ... Seattle heads to Dallas on Tuesday.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 109 94
    FGM-FGA 47-89 (.528) 37-82 (.451)
    3PM-3PA 9-24 (.375) 4-14 (.286)
    FTM-FTA 6-10 (.600) 16-25 (.640)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-43 10-35
    Assists 25 20
    Turnovers 10 11
    Steals 5 1
    Blocks 6 4
    Fast Break Points 8 8
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 23 (2/0) 15 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 21 2

    Top Performers

    Ray Allen Allen
    Points: 34
    Reb: 10
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Latrell Sprewell Sprewell
    Points: 20
    Reb: 2
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0