Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series starts 12/26

Game 1: Wednesday, December 26th
Game 2: Friday, February 15th
Game 3: Thursday, April 4th
Game 4: Wednesday, April 17th

    7:00 PM ET, December 26, 2001

    Pepsi Center, Denver, CO

    1 2 3 4 T
    MIN 27 20 26 2194
    DEN 21 25 18 2791

    Top Performers

    Min: K. Garnett 22 Pts, 12 Reb, 7 Ast, 3 Blk

    Den: N. Van Exel 27 Pts, 5 Reb, 9 Ast

    Nuggets rally, but fall short against T-Wolves

    DENVER (AP) -- The Denver Nuggets took one more emotional hit Wednesday night.

    MacLeod named full-time assistant
    DENVER -- Former NBA coach John MacLeod is joining the Nuggets bench as a full-time assistant.

    MacLeod was hired by the Nuggets in September as a consultant. His new role was announced Wednesday after Dan Issel resigned as coach and team president and Mike Evans was named interim coach.

    Nuggets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe played for MacLeod when he was coaching the New York Knicks.

    MacLeod has also coached Dallas and Phoenix and has coaching experience outside the league at Notre Dame and Oklahoma.
    -- Associated Press

    Just hours after coach Dan Issel resigned, Voshon Lenard missed a wide open 3-pointer with 15 seconds left and the Nuggets lost 94-91 to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.

    "Basically I'm just glad it's over with," said Nick Van Exel, who scored 27 for Denver as the Nuggets lost their fourth straight game. "We fought hard to come back, but we just didn't get it at the end. Close but definitely no cigar."

    Issel resigned after serving a four-game suspension and taking a leave of absence after he made insensitive ethnic remarks to a fan following a Dec. 11 loss to Charlotte.

    "This group has made an unbelievable effort through all the adversity and the change that has taken place and everything that has gone on in the last couple of weeks," Denver interim coach Mike Evans said. "I am not going to think about Dan any more. That is it, that is over and that is going backward."

    The Nuggets appeared to deal well with the resignation. They weren't as fortunate with Kevin Garnett, who had 22 points and 12 rebounds and Chauncey Billups, who added 22 points and eight assists.

    Anthony Peeler scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of free throws with eight seconds left. The Timberwolves, 18-2 when leading after three quarters, were outscored 27-21 in the final period but won their third straight.

    The Nuggets, 2-4 under interim coach Mike Evans, made a game of it in the final two minutes. Van Exel hit a layup and free throw to cut Minnesota's lead to 90-84 at the two-minute mark.

    James Posey, who had 18 points, scored the next six points including two free throws with 43 seconds left to give Denver a 91-90 lead. Joe Smith put the Timberwolves ahead 92-91 with a 15-footer with 33 seconds left.

    "That wasn't my shot, but the play was designed for Wally Szczerbiak," Smith said. "When both defenders went with Wally, I was left open for my baby jumper."

    Lenard missed a 3-pointer, and Peeler converted two free throws after being fouled with eight seconds left.

    "Voshon usually hits that shot with his eyes closed," Evans said.

    Trailing 73-64 after three quarters, Van Exel scored the first four points of the final period to make it 73-68. With Garnett resting for nearly four minutes at the start of the final quarter, Peeler stepped up with eight points, including a 3-pointer with 8:20 to go, to give Minnesota its biggest lead, 84-71.

    Garnett hit a 3-pointer upon his return, and Minnesota seemed in control when Wally Szczerbiak's jumper with 2:52 left made it 90-81.

    Billups layup and free throw off a break completed a 7-0 run to start the second half to put the Timberwolves ahead 54-46, but Lenard brought Denver back within 58-57 with 6:03 left. Minnesota answered with a 12-0 run, the final two coming on a rebound basket by Gary Trent with 1:46 left.

    Billups split the defense with 4:13 left in the first quarter to cap a 10-2 run that put Minnesota ahead 25-14. The Nuggets, 8-for-22 in the quarter, didn't have a basket in the paint until Raef LaFrentz's layup in the final two minutes and trailed 27-21 after one period.

    After Peeler's jump shot three minutes into the second quarter, the Nuggets went on a 17-6 run with Van Exel's 3-pointer with 4:15 left tying the game at 41-41.

    "I think from their standpoint now they can breathe a sigh of relief," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders. "It's the end of not knowing what direction you are going in, and the uncertainty can cause you to play in limbo and by extension."

    Game notes
    The Timberwolves chose not to activate Felipe Lopez, who was eligible to come off the injured list Wednesday. Lopez will practice on Thursday on the team's off day. ... Minnesota played Golden State in Dave Cowens' final game as coach and Tim Floyd's last game as Chicago's coach. ... The Nuggets have hit at least one 3-pointer in 220 consecutive games. ... Posey, Van Exel and Ryan Bowen would not respond to questions before the game concerning Issel. ... LaFrentz had his sixth double-double of the year; Garnett had his 19th.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 94 91
    FGM-FGA 38-86 (.442) 33-81 (.407)
    3PM-3PA 8-17 (.471) 8-22 (.364)
    FTM-FTA 10-12 (.833) 17-20 (.850)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-41 10-43
    Assists 29 24
    Turnovers 7 11
    Steals 7 4
    Blocks 6 6
    Fast Break Points 15 5
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 17 (1/1) 14 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    Kevin Garnett Garnett
    Points: 22
    Reb: 12
    Ast: 7
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 3
    Nick Van Exel Van Exel
    Points: 27
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 9
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0