Wesley hits winner to erase a night of misery


NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- David Wesley was having one of his worst games of the season until the final rebound landed in his hands.

Wesley lofted the ball over Brian Skinner and into the hoop for a game-winning buzzer-beater as the New Orleans Hornets defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 99-98 Tuesday night.

"I ran where I thought the ball was going because it looked short when it left his hands. A couple tips and it's in my hands and I just tossed it up there,'' said Wesley, who was 3-of-10 shooting for six points. "I've never been so happy after a game where I played just terrible.''

Jamal Mashburn, who had 37 points -- his highest total with the Hornets, missed the turnaround jumper that deflected to Wesley in the lane.

"We made them take a tough shot,'' 76ers coach Larry Brown said. "We talked about blocking out and rebounding ... I always tell them, 'It's not the last-second shots that beat you. The second shots beat you.'''

Allen Iverson nearly handed New Orleans its first home loss with his game-high 38 points and seven assists, but he missed a jumper from the top of the key in the final minute that could have put Philadelphia up by three with 5.2 seconds left.

"I'd rather lose by 30 than lose like this,'' Iverson said. "These ones hurt. Bad.''

Baron Davis, who came out early in the third period with four fouls but finished strong, had 21 points for New Orleans, while P.J. Brown had 15 points and 16 rebounds. Jamaal Magloire added 11 points, a game-high 17 rebounds and seven blocked shots.

Aaron McKie scored 18 for Philadelphia, while Keith Van Horn
added 11 and Eric Snow 10.

There were six lead changes in the last 3:10. Philadelphia,
which trailed by as many as 22 in the first half, took its first
lead, 76-75, when Van Horn put back a missed shot with just under
11 minutes left.

"I'm proud of my team,'' Brown said. "Guys made big plays. It
was a great comeback. I didn't like the outcome.''

Hornets coach Paul Silas said the Hornets' big early leads, although squandered, still made the difference.

"That probably won the game for us,'' Silas said. Philadelphia "had to battle back all night to get back in the game.''

The Hornets hit nine of their first 11 shots, including 3-pointers by Davis and Mashburn, and made five of six free throws to jump out to 25-8 lead. New Orleans led 38-19 at end of the first quarter, during which the Hornets outrebounded the 76ers 13-2.

Iverson, who scored 23 first-half points on a variety of jump
shots and acrobatic drives, singlehandedly kept Philadelphia from
getting blown out early. He led a 14-2 run in the second quarter
that brought Philadelphia within 40-31.

Game notes
The Hornets, who had been holding off on releasing season
ticket figures for their first season in New Orleans, said
Wednesday they have sold about 8,500. "We're really pleased with
that because that was just over the summer and it represents 85
percent of the deposits we received,'' team spokesman Harold
Kaufman said. The New Orleans arena holds about 17,200 for
basketball. Average attendance after seven games is 14,727 ...
Philadelphia, which came in as the No. 4 rebounding team in the
NBA, did not have a single rebound through the first six minutes of
the game. Part of the low rebounding total was due to sharp
shooting early by New Orleans, which hit nine of its first 11
shots. ... Iverson, making his first appearance in New Orleans,
received a smattering of boos during introductions and often when
he touched the ball. But he had a number of fans in the stands who
piped up as he hit big shots in the fourth quarter.