Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 11/6

Game 1: Saturday, November 6th
Game 2: Saturday, November 20th
Game 3: Wednesday, March 23rd
Game 4: Monday, April 18th

Timberwolves 102

(43-38, 20-21 away)

Hornets 99

(18-63, 11-29 home)

    Coverage: KSTC

    7:00 PM ET, April 18, 2005

    Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA

    1 2 3 4 T
    MIN 24 24 28 26102
    NO 26 20 26 2799

    Top Performers

    Min: K. Garnett 14 Pts, 4 Reb, 7 Ast, 2 Stl

    NO: B. Nachbar 14 Pts, 7 Reb, 4 Ast

    Szczerbiak sparks Minny comeback

    NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- One day after saying he might like a fresh start with another team next season, Wally Szczerbiak gave the Minnesota Timberwolves plenty of reasons to keep him around.

    Szczerbiak scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, leading Minnesota to a 102-99 comeback victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Monday night.

    Szczerbiak had expressed frustration with his sixth man role, saying he felt he had played well enough to start for the Wolves, who had been eliminated from the playoffs after losing Sunday to Seattle.

    But Szczerbiak said his love for the game will keep him playing to win regardless of his situation.

    "That's all you can do when you step out there on the floor, whether it means something or not. Just go out there and try to make your teammates better and play like a team and come away with the win," Szczerbiak said. "If you're a true basketball player who loves the game, you play during the summer, in summer leagues and give a true effort. If you're going to be out there and if you're going to be performing and they pay you a lot of money, you'd better give a darn good effort."

    Sam Cassell scored 16 points and Kevin Garnett had 14 as Minnesota handed New Orleans its eighth straight loss, one that guaranteed the Hornets (18-63) could do no better than tie the franchise's all-time worst record. In 1989-90, the then-Charlotte Hornets, only in their second year in the NBA, went 19-63.

    "You go through the whole season and you figure out in Game 81 that you pretty much saw every way we could possibly lose a game and we invented a new one tonight," Hornets coach Byron Scott said.

    Minnesota went through several lethargic stretches, looking like a team deflated from their recent elimination from the postseason. The Hornets took advantage early in the fourth quarter, hustling in their transition game to produce a breakaway dunk by Casey Jacobsen, who had a team-high 15 points, and a driving dunk by Bostjan Nachbar.

    Nachbar's dunk gave New Orleans an 89-84 lead. But Szczerbiak scored eight straight points during the heart of the final period on three soft jumpers and a driving layup to keep the Wolves within three points. His fallaway with about 2 minutes left pulled Minnesota to 97-95.

    Then, with the Hornets still leading by one inside the final minute, Szczerbiak picked off Dan Dickau's baseline bounce pass. He started the Wolves back up the floor on a possession that ended with Anthony Carter's driving layup, giving Minnesota a 100-99 lead with 29 seconds left.

    After Dickau missed a floater, New Orleans got the rebound, but had to settle for a 16-foot jumper by Maciej Lampe that missed.

    "That's frustrating. We were playing well," Dickau said. "I have to take a lot of responsibility. I missed a shot in that (final) stretch and had a turnover. Defensively, Anthony Carter scored that go-ahead layup while I was giving help on Szczerbiak."

    Nachbar's running 3-point attempt at the buzzer, which could have tied the game, fell short for a bitter end to what was a strong game for him. Nachbar had 14 points, including three driving dunks and two 3-pointers. Dickau had 12 points and 11 rebounds, while J.R. Smith and P.J. Brown each scored 13 points.

    The Hornets played without injured center Jamaal Magloire and point guard Speedy Claxton. Scott kept Brown, the team's leader all season, on the bench in crunch time because he's still trying to figure out which of the younger players he wants around next season.

    "You have to give those guys a chance. You have to see how they are going to act and react in adverse situations," Scott said.

    Michael Olowokandi had 12 points for Minnesota on 6-of-8 shooting.

    "We found a fun way to win one. It was pretty much like an exhibition game for us," Minnesota coach Kevin McHale said. "Wally carried us for a while. The players were loose. That's to be expected at this part of the season when there's nothing to play for."

    Game notes

    With one game remaining, Minnesota is 18-12 since McHale took over as coach for Flip Saunders on Feb. 12. However, McHale has said he does not intend to coach next season. ... The Hornets have a nine-game losing streak at home, where they finish the season Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers. ... Minnesota F Ndudi Ebi scored his first point of the season on a free throw. The 20-year-old had not played all season before entering the game late in the first quarter. He finished with nine.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 102 99
    FGM-FGA 42-84 (.500) 38-79 (.481)
    3PM-3PA 1-8 (.125) 6-18 (.333)
    FTM-FTA 17-27 (.630) 17-24 (.708)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 15-43 11-39
    Assists 27 30
    Turnovers 6 12
    Steals 6 3
    Blocks 6 5
    Fast Break Points 1 16
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 18 (2/0) 21 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 5 5

    Top Performers

    New Orleans
    Kevin Garnett Garnett
    Points: 14
    Reb: 4
    Ast: 7
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0
    Bostjan Nachbar Nachbar
    Points: 14
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0