The Minnesota Timberwolves beat the New Orleans Hornets under the rim tonight, 113-102, their dominance in the paint overshadowing the Hornets’ 53 percent shooting and a career performance by guard Austin Rivers.
Nikola Pekovic led Minnesota with a career high 31 points, all but one of his shots from in the key. Pekovic bullied the Hornets defense into allowing him to shoot 14-18 from the field, and the rest of the Timberwolves followed suit, with 70 of their points scored from down-low. Minnesota also scored 24 second-chance points as they out-rebounded the Hornets 40-30.
The New Orleans Hornets put up a great defensive effort against the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road yesterday evening, but were unable to keep pace in the final minutes, losing 92-88.
The New Orleans defense kept the Thunder to season-low scoring at the end of the first quarter (17 points) and before halftime (36 points). Their strategy: to keep the NBA’s top scoring team to a low output that they could attempt to match.
The Saints dropped their third straight game to the New York Giants, 52-27 at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
The Saints’ turnover woes continued, and the Giants capitalized on early fumbles by Marques Colston and Jed Collins, and two second-half interceptions by Drew Brees. But the Saints defense struck first when defensive back Elbert Mack intercepted Eli Manning for a 73-yard touchdown return early in the first quarter.
Despite the Hornets’ best efforts the Memphis veterans out-played the young New Orleans team Friday night, 96-89. Memphis starters Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Mark Gasol combined for 56 points and 24 rebounds.
The Grizzlies’ defense grinded the Hornets, capturing 35 defensive rebounds, with Randolph and Gasol together contributing 17 boards. The Grizzlies snagged nine steals, five alone from Mike Conley, blocked the Bees six times, and scored 19 points off of Hornets turnovers.
The New Orleans Saints will travel north this weekend for a Sunday evening matchup with the defending Super Bowl-champion New York Giants.
The two slumping teams will have each something to prove as New Orleans has dropped two straight heartbreakers, while New York has lost three of their last four games and are beginning to lose their footing atop the always-tough NFC East Division.
The Memphis Grizzlies (13-3) meet the Hornets (5-12) tonight at the New Orleans Arena at 7 p.m. The Grizzlies are currently first place in the Western Conference, despite having one of the most difficult schedules in the league so far. The Heat, Thunder, and Knicks have all fallen to Memphis.