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Past statements haunt, but don't stop Szczerbiak

4/9/2002

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Wally Szczerbiak was just saying what
many Golden State fans have been thinking for years. Still, those
fans let him know nobody is allowed to make fun of the Warriors
except them.

Szczerbiak, who called the Warriors' organization "a bunch of
clowns" earlier this season, scored 21 points through constant
boos, and Kevin Garnett had 22 points and 12 rebounds as the
Minnesota Timberwolves beat Golden State 100-93 Monday night.

Golden State's loyal Oakland fans, who haven't seen a playoff
game in an NBA-worst eight seasons, still booed Szczerbiak every
time he touched the ball. The Warriors playfully displayed his
picture on the giant video screen -- with a fuzzy wig, a clown nose
and a pastel bow tie superimposed on it.

The hazing didn't help Golden State, however. Szczerbiak hit
several big baskets in the fourth quarter as the Wolves hung on.

"The razzing didn't affect me in any way," Szczerbiak said.
"You expect to get booed when you're on your opponents' home
court. I really got a chuckle when they put up my picture with the
clown on it. ... I think that they know I didn't mean any
disrespect at all."

All five starters scored in double figures for the Timberwolves,
who won for the sixth time in seven games. Despite the early
ejection of former Warriors center Marc Jackson for a flagrant
foul, Minnesota increased its lead to two games over Portland for
the fifth playoff spot in the Western Conference.

"There's a certain group of guys in this league that the more
you razz them, the better they play," Minnesota coach Flip
Saunders said. "He's one of them. He's got a lot of respect for
those (Golden State players), and he's going to go at them."

Antawn Jamison scored 25 points for the Warriors, who dropped a
half-game behind Memphis into last place in the Western Conference
with their fifth defeat in seven games. Golden State has 20 victories, two
more than Chicago, which beat Boston earlier Monday and has the
NBA's worst record.

Actually, a quarter of the Timberwolves' roster is reviled in
Oakland. Joe Smith failed as the Warriors' No. 1 overall choice in
1993, and Jackson -- who signed an offer sheet with Houston in an
attempt to flee Golden State last summer -- spent four months
stewing on the Warriors before being traded in February.

All three players were booed by the Oakland crowd, but Jackson
was tossed early in the second quarter after committing a flagrant
foul against Bob Sura.

It was a strange, short return for Jackson, runner-up in rookie of the year voting last season with the Warriors. After scoring
four quick points, Jackson hit Sura high, then appeared to shove
Sura as he fell hard to the ground.

After the game, Jackson went to the Warriors' locker room and
shared hugs with his former teammates -- but if general manager
Garry St. Jean had been there, he probably wouldn't have received
any love. Jackson was furious with St. Jean's clumsy handling of
his situation, and he drew a two-game suspension for speaking out
earlier.

"Bobby was a little ticked when I first tried to apologize, but
he knows I wasn't trying to hurt him," Jackson said. "My coaches
knew I was just playing the game, (but) when I saw it on the
videotape, it did look kind of bad."

Jason Richardson added 21 points for Oakland, and fellow rookie
starter Gilbert Arenas had 15. Sura had 18 points, six rebounds
and six assists in a reserve role.

Chauncey Billups had 13 points and nine assists as the
Timberwolves began a four-game California road trip with their
third victory in four games against the Warriors this season.

While Szczerbiak and Garnett shouldered the scoring, Minnesota
sat back in a zone defense and watched the erratic Warriors miss
another series of open jumpers. It's a strategy Golden State has
seen frequently in recent months.

"Teams just tend to stay in the zone until we show that we can
make some shots," Arenas said. "If we could hit a few of those
shots, I think teams would come out of their zone."

Game notes
Smith left the game with 5:55 left after a collision under
the basket. Saunders said Smith was shaken up, but otherwise fine.
... Minnesota travels to Sacramento on Tuesday before two games at
Staples Center against the Lakers and the Clippers. ... Actor
Delroy Lindo, who attended drama school in the Bay Area, sat at
courtside. ... The Timberwolves outrebounded the Warriors 51-43, a
rare occurrence for Golden State.