CHARLOTTE, N.C., Feb. 25 (Ticker)
-- Wally Szczerbiak
scored 24 points and keyed a decisive fourth-quarter run as the Minnesota Timberwolves posted a 97-92 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.
An All-Star for the first time this season, Szczerbiak flashed that form in the second half, when he scored 18 points. But he was especially clutch in the fourth quarter, when he netted eight points in the pivotal run.
After William Avery
drained a 3-pointer to tie the contest at 71-71 with 11:37 remaining, Szczerbiak made three free throws to give the Timberwolves the lead for good.
Szczerbiak also hit a short jumper and capped an 18-5 spurt by drilling a 3-pointer from the top of the key, giving the Wolves a 86-76 advantage with 7:51 to play. He finished 8-of-17 from the field, including 3-of-5 from beyond the arc.
NBATV highlights from Timberwolves-Hornets:
Wally Szczerbiak had the hot hand for the Timberwolves against the Hornets, with 24 points.
Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images
"I was just trying to be aggressive," Szcerbiak said. "I missed a couple of easy shots early but I wanted to stay aggressive. This team has faith in me and is going to look for me to step up. I was able to make some big shots in the third quarter and was instrumental in the win."
As a team, the Timberwolves went 7-of-9 from 3-point range in the second half and was 9-of-15 from beyond the arc in the contest. Kevin Garnett
added 21 points and nine rebounds for the Timberwolves, who have won their last two visits to Charlotte, after losing their first 11 contests here. Elden Campbell
scored 23 points for Charlotte, which has lost three straight to fall two games under the .500 mark (27-29).
The Hornets also were dealt a blow in the first quarter when All-Star guard Baron Davis
suffered a bruised chest. He left after the quarter and did not return.
Despite missing their best player, the Hornets battled back in the fourth quarter, pulling within 95-92 with 30 seconds remaining following a three-point play by Jamal Mashburn
Mashburn finished with 15 points on 5-of-15 shooting and added five assists.
On the Wolves' ensuing possession, Garnett missed a wide open short jumper but Rasho Nesterovic
snuck in from the backside for a tip-in, making it a five-point game with just seven seconds remaining.
"We battled back within three points," Hornets coach Paul Silas said. "We got them to miss and they got a big offensive rebound there at the end. The guys battled. I can't say anything bad about my guys. They gave me a great effort."
Nesterovic was part of an effective front line that cleary outplayed Charlotte's frontcourt. He had 14 points and eight rebounds and Joe Smith
had 16 and nine. Marc Jackson
, acquired from Golden State prior to Thursday's trade deadline, also did his part up front for the Wolves. In his second game with his new team, the 6-10 forward-center had 12 rebounds in 22 minutes.
Led by their strong play in the frontcourt, the Wolves held a commanding 47-28 rebounding advantage.
"The biggest thing right now is pummeling people on the boards," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "We've emphasized rebounding all year and the biggest difference now is that we're moving people out and wearing them down."
"It was huge for us to outrebound them," Smith said. "We feel like rebounding is a strength that gets us over the hump. We have to pound the glass every night."
Without Davis, the Hornets turned to Bryce Drew
, who had three points and six assists in 34 minutes.
Missing their leader in the backcourt, the Hornets relied on Campbell in the first half, when he scored 10 points to help them to a 44-41 lead.
Drew's only basket -- a 3-pointer with 9:20 left in the third quarter -- gave the Hornets their biggest lead of the contest at 53-45.
But the Wolves battled back behind Garnett, who scored nine points in the third quarter as Minnesota pulled within 79-78 entering the final 12 minutes.