MINNEAPOLIS, April 17 (Ticker) -- Wally Szczerbiak
scored 20 points in 23
minutes as the Minnesota Timberwolves matched their franchise
record of 50 wins with a 104-90 triumph over the Denver Nuggets
in the last game of the regular season.
With the game tied 14-14, Anthony Peeler
hit a 3-pointer with
1:57 remaining in the opening quarter to give the Timberwolves
the lead for good. Minnesota closed the period on an 11-0 run,
and Denver never seriously threatened thereafter.
Peeler added 17 points and Gary Trent
15 for the Timberwolves,
who are seeded fifth in the Western Conference and will face
either San Antonio, the Los Angeles Lakers or, most likely,
Dallas in the first round of the playoffs.
had just six points but sat out the second and
fourth quarters. Fellow All-Star Szczerbiak also was rested for
the final period.
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Gary Trent went inside and out to put in a solid 15 points.
Minnesota (50-32) previously recorded 50 wins two years ago.
"Anytime we win 50 games, it's considered good," Timberwolves
coach Flip Saunders said. "They talk about Sacramento wins 60,
it's considered a great year. So overall, in the scheme of
things, 50 wins is good."
"Our goal is to do well and be successful as a team," Garnett
said. "I feel that 50 sets a mark that is outstanding,
especially when you think about the franchise and where it has
come from. It shows that we are making strides to be better. At
the same time, it's not what you do during the regular season
Minnesota, which is advancing to its sixth straight postseason,
has never won a playoff series.
"There were two goals when we started: one, to get into the
playoffs, and two, to get home court," Saunders said. "We didn't
get home court, so we're in the same situation where we've
been, where no one's going to pick us to win in the first round.
We're better than where we've been, in that we're the fifth
seed. There's a reason that a lot of fifth seeds beat fourth
(seeds), because that's where your best matchups are."
Rookie Kenny Satterfield
scored 21 points to pace Denver
(27-55), which missed out on an opportunity to win a fourth
consecutive game for the first time since January 12-19, 2001.
The Nuggets played without Juwan Howard
(strained groin), Voshon
(right knee tendinitis) and George McCloud
"They were out there playing hard," said Minnesota's Chauncey
, who had just four points in 19 minutes. "They were
playing without any of their main guys they started the season
with. Theire guys were just getting an opportunity to play, and
they played hard."
Minnesota led 53-38 at halftime and 76-61 after three quarters.
The Nuggets got within 93-85 on a jumper by Satterfield with
2:39 left, but Felipe Lopez
countered with a 3-pointer and
Denver got no closer than nine points down the stretch.
"They should appreciate what they did for themselves," said
Nuggets coach Mike Evans of his team. "They laid it on the line.
We were in it tonight. There were bright spots, and we hung in
there the whole way. They have nothing to hang their head
The teams split their four-game season series.
"We did have a good season and put ourselves in a good spot,"
Szczerbiak said. "But the goal of this team is to win a
championship. Every team's goal should be to do that. We're
going in with that mindset. We're going to play hard and play
well. We know we can beat these teams. We just have to compete
our hearts out."
"I feel they have a great chance if they come to play every
night," said Denver's Donnell Harvey
, who had 12 points. "It's
not about the talent or anything like that. It's about heart. If
they go out and leave everything on the court, I feel they can
pull it off. They have a great chance."