Hornets Win Fourth Straight in Victory Over Timberwolves, 104-92
The Hornets came back from an 18-point first quarter deficit Friday night to overcome the injury-plagued Minnesota Timberwolves, 104-92.
The win at home is the fourth straight victory for the Hornets, and the fifth in the past six games. It’s their longest winning streak since April of 2012.
The first quarter was a study in frustration for the Hornets, who turned the ball over seven times and were outscored 29-14 on only 35.3% shooting. This despite Minnesota’s thin roster — the Timberwolves came into the game tonight with just ten healthy players, and fresh off a 22-point loss in Oklahoma City on Wednesday.
The Timberwolves were also missing Head Coach Rick Adelman, who stayed behind in Minnesota to be with his hospitalized wife.
The Hornets managed to come into their stride in the 2nd quarter, going on a 19-8 run before the half. Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson both knocked down 3-pointers in the last minutes of the half, helping bring the score within six, 46-40, going into the 3rd.
During the 3rd, the Hornets grinded the Timberwolves on both sides of the court. New Orleans kept Minnesota to only 25% shooting, 4-16 from the field, and shot 56% in turn. New Orleans also controlled the paint, outscoring their opponents 20-4 under the rim, with Greivis Vasquez passing out seven assists to the Hornets bigs.
Vasquez passed out 13 assists total, and scored 18 points. This is his twelfth double-double this season, and his fifth in the last 6 games.
The Hornets tied it up with a big Anthony Davis slam with 6:29 left to go in the 3rd, and never looked back.
In the second half, the Hornets out-rebounded the Timberwolves 26-14, and held them to 38.2% from the field. Three different players came off the New Orleans bench to rack up 10-plus points, including 21 points in the final period. Jason Smith shot perfectly in the 4th, scoring 12 points, pulling in three rebounds and sealing the Hornets victory.
“You have to stay focused. You just have to stay in the game plan,” said Hornets’ Forward Ryan Anderson after the game. “They were missing a few guys, so they got a little [tired] in that second half. We wanted to make sure to run them and just stay with our scheme, eliminate their easy points in the paint. We did a great job of that.”
“It seemed like at times some guys had heavy legs, and it is what it is,” said Timberwolves Assistant Coach Terry Porter after the game, when asked about whether the team was starting to feel a bit of strain with so many players injured. “Until we start getting some guys back, this is what we have, and everybody has to do more.”
Al-Farouq Aminu scored his fourth double-double of the season with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Aminu has racked up 46 rebounds in his last four games.
All five of the Timberwolves starters scored in the double digits, lead by Luke Ridnour with 20 points, four assists and four rebounds.
The Timberwolves were without four players tonight, including Forward Kevin Love and Guard J.J Barea. Love broke his hand for the second time this season in a game against the Denver Nuggets last week. He is expected to be out for 8-10 weeks as he recovers. Before the injury, Love was averaging 18.3 points and 14 rebounds per game. Barea was suffering back spasms; he averages 10.7 points and 4.4 assists a game.
Recently-returned Minnesota Guard Ricky Rubio only scored three points and three assists in 21:32 minutes off the bench.
With tonight’s victory the Hornets (11-25) finish out a three game homestand. They are set to start an East Coast road trip in Sunday, flying out to face New York, Philadelphia and Boston.