CLEVELAND - Milt Palacio is sorry to see the Cleveland Cavaliers' dismal season nearing an end.
Ricky Davis scored 17 points, Cleveland blocked a season-high 13 shots and Palacio sparked a fourth-quarter rally for a 79-76 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday night that assured the Cavaliers won't set a new mark for the worst record in franchise history.
It was Cleveland's 15th win with six games to play. The Cavaliers went 15-67 in their inaugural season of 1970-71 and in 1981-82.
"This team has grown so much that I want to keep playing," Palacio said of the young Cavs, winners of four of their last six home games.
"I'm really happy to win, but sad to think the season is about over. These young guys are becoming a team and I sure want to be here when they finish the learning process. It's going to be fun."
The Hornets' Jamal Mashburn scored 23 points, but made a critical turnover with 11.7 seconds to play and missed a 28-foot attempt with less than a second left that could have tied it.
The Carlos Boozer Archive
New Orleans lost for the fifth time in seven games and played without three double-figure scorers, including backcourt starters David Wesley and Baron Davis. Forward P.J. Brown was not with the team after spraining his right ankle when the Hornets clinched a playoff berth Wednesday night in New Jersey.
"People were out, but no excuses," Mashburn said.
Ricky Davis had three of the Cavs' season-high 13 blocks.
Rookie power forward Carlos Boozer of Juneau had 13 points despite his second-straight off shooting night (5-for-15), 15 rebounds, four assists and two blocks to help Cleveland snap a five-game losing streak. In Friday's 95-93 loss at Milwaukee, Boozer scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds despite shooting just 2-for-12 from the field.
They were Boozer's 18th and 19th double-doubles of the season. Despite the 7-for-27 weekend, Boozer is still shooting .534 for the season (299-for-560), which ranks third in the NBA for field-goal percentage.
The Hornets shot just 9-for-51 over the second and third quarters and saw their lead over Boston for the fifth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference drop to a half game.
The Hornets went ahead 72-70 on a 3-pointer by Mashburn with 5:17 left, then missed their next six shots.
A three by Jumaine Jones with 3:31 left put Cleveland ahead to stay. Palacio added a 10-foot jumper for his sixth point of a 15-7 run to make it 77-72.
"Milt made a big shot and the guys played solid team ball down the stretch," Cavs coach Keith Smart said. "We've made a lot of mistakes and lost close games, but tonight we made the right decisions during the last five minutes."
Trailing 77-74 with 11.7 second left, Mashburn dribbled the ball of his foot and out of bounds, and Davis split two free throws less than a second later to make it 78-74.
"I just lost the handle," Mashburn said. "That happens. Still, we had a chance."
Jamaal Magliore, who had 15 points and 12 rebounds, drove easily to make it 78-76 with 7.5 seconds to play and again Davis split two free throws for a 79-76 advantage with 6.3 left.
Cleveland used an 11-2 run to take a 43-39 lead at the break. Davis had 10 points at halftime on 5-for-18 shooting. Mashburn led New Orleans at halftime with 14 points.
Suns 111, Timberwolves 94
PHOENIX - Bo Outlaw had season highs of 19 points and 15 rebounds to help the Phoenix Suns improve their playoff chances with a 111-94 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday.
The Suns, who beat the Timberwolves for the first time in four tries this season, have won four of five overall to boost their lead to 1 1/2 games over idle Houston for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West with seven to play.
Hawks 97, Grizzlies 91
ATLANTA - Jason Terry scored 23 points and Dion Glover added 20 as the Atlanta Hawks sent the Memphis Grizzlies to their seventh straight loss.
The Hawks, eliminated from the Eastern Conference playoffs following Milwaukee's two-point victory Friday over Cleveland, never trailed after Terry hit two free throws with 1:58 remaining in the first quarter.
Mavericks 108, Magic 90
DALLAS - Dirk Nowitzki scored 29 points and Steve Nash added 28 as Dallas retained its lead in the Western Conference.
The Mavericks (57-19) hold a one-game advantage over San Antonio in the race for the top record in the Midwest Division - and the Western Conference.
Bulls 117, Bucks 115, OT
CHICAGO - Jalen Rose scored 31 points and Donyell Marshall had 19 points and 13 rebounds as Chicago erased a 19-point deficit in regulation and beat Milwaukee.
Jamal Crawford and Jay Williams each added 19 points for the Bulls, who ended a four-game losing streak and won in overtime for the first time in a franchise-record eight tries this season.
Clippers 109, Knicks 98
LOS ANGELES - Elton Brand scored 29 points in his third game off the injured list, and Andre Miller scored seven of his 19 points in the final 3:16 as the Los Angeles Clippers put the New York Knicks one step closer to elimination from the playoff picture.
New York's fourth defeat in six games, coupled with Milwaukee's overtime loss at Chicago, left the Knicks one loss or one Milwaukee victory away from missing the postseason for the second straight season.
Latrell Sprewell led the Knicks with 29 points, and Clarence Weatherspoon had 12 points and 14 rebounds.