New Orleans at Minnesota

Beasley's 30 lead Timberwolves past Hornets

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- After a horrendous start to the season, the Minnesota Timberwolves are starting to show signs of overcoming their fourth-quarter jinx.

Their latest victory may have been their most complete performance of the season, and it came at the expense of a New Orleans Hornets team that is tumbling back to earth after an 11-1 start.

Michael Beasley had 30 points, nine rebounds and a career-high seven assists to lead the Timberwolves to a 113-98 over the Hornets on Monday night.

Wesley Johnson added a career-high 24 points and made six 3-pointers for the Timberwolves, who have won back-to-back games for just the second time this season.

"That's the type of team game overall, offensively and defensively, that we're really pushing our guys to get to," coach Kurt Rambis said.

Chris Paul had 22 points and 13 assists for the Hornets, who lost their seventh straight road game and are 7-12 since their terrific start.

David West added 23 points, but New Orleans allowed the Timberwolves to shoot 53 percent from the field and 11 for 23 from 3-point range while losing to a team that entered with just seven victories on the season.

"I think this one we're going to be mad at for a long time," Paul said. "Of course, you've got to get over it, but at the same time, we should have beat this team. Bad, bad, bad loss for us. I don't know, they just beat us."

The Timberwolves trailed by three at halftime but Johnson hit four 3-pointers in the third quarter, including three in a row, to help Minnesota build an 11-point lead.

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The Timberwolves, the youngest team in the league, have had a heck of a time closing out games so far this season, blowing double-digit leads almost on a nightly basis. The Wolves have blown seven leads of at least 10 points this season, most recently a 15-point third-quarter lead against Utah last week.

Beasley's 3-pointer gave them a 92-80 lead that held with just over 7 minutes remaining. Instead of tightening up, forcing bad shots and committing turnovers, the Wolves played with discipline and patience down the stretch.

Jonny Flynn hit a 3-pointer, Kevin Love converted a three-point play and Beasley added one more from long distance to put the game away. Love overcame a slow start to finish with 16 points and 11 rebounds, helping the Wolves beat a team with a winning record for the first time all season.

"We played well in the fourth quarter, too," Love said. "That's been our Achilles' heel all season. We finally got a win over a team with an above .500 record."

After a big first quarter, the Hornets had no answer for the quicker, sharper Timberwolves.

The Hornets shot 60 percent in the first quarter, using a 10-0 run en route to a 35-point first quarter.

The Timberwolves are one of the worst defensive teams in the league, giving up more assists than any other team. Paul feasted on them early and often, finding open cutters for dunks and wingmen for open jumpers, a problem that has plagued the Wolves all year long.

West had 11 points in the first period and New Orleans was pounding the best rebounding team in the NBA on the boards until Kurt Rambis inserted Nikola Pekovic, a bruising center who injected the Wolves with some much-needed toughness on the inside.

Throwing his 290-pound frame around, Pekovic helped jumpstart a 12-2 run that got Minnesota back in the game.

"I don't think we're going from start to finish," said West, whose Hornets have dropped three straight road games to teams with a losing record. "We have spurts and stretches where we're solid defensively. In terms of completion, we aren't going from start to finish."

The Wolves held the Hornets to 63 points over the final three quarters, playing the kind of tenacious help defense that hasn't been present all season.

"When you show you can shut down a team that's in the playoff chase, that gets you excited," Timberwolves swingman Martell Webster said.

Notes

  • Pekovic returned from a four-game absence with a sprained left ankle.
  • Minnesota G Luke Ridnour got a demonstration technical foul in the first quarter after being whistled for an over-and-back violation. He gave a dismissive wave to referee Kane Fitzgerald, who called him for the technical. He finished with 12 points and 11 assists.
  • Marco Belinelli scored 11 points but was torched by Johnson in the third quarter when Monty Williams shifted Trevor Ariza to guard Beasley.
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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The Timberwolves' Wesley Johnson drives to the hoop in a 113-98 win over the Hornets. (Getty Images)
The Timberwolves' Wesley Johnson drives to the hoop in a 113-98 win over the Hornets. (Getty Images)
Scoreboard
New Orleans (18-13)3522202198
Minnesota (8-24) «27272831113
NO:D. West 23 Pts
NO:E. Okafor 8 Reb
NO:C. Paul 13 Ast
MIN:M. Beasley 30 Pts
MIN:K. Love 11 Reb
MIN:L. Ridnour 11 Ast
Players of the Game
New OrleansMinnesota

Chris Paul

Michael Beasley
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
226133097

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New Orleans
C. Paul, PG416-138-9613222
D. West, PF379-185-543423
T. Ariza, SG375-115-643415
E. Okafor, C344-81-18059
M. Belinelli, SG295-120-020211
M. Thornton, SG213-110-02206
J. Jack, PG180-41-23241
J. Smith, PF112-63-47027
Q. Pondexter, SF102-20-03014
D. Mbenga, C30-00-00010
D. Andersen, CDid Not Play
M. Banks, PGDid Not Play
W. Green, SGDid Not Play
P. Mensah-Bonsu, PFDid Not Play
A. Gray, CDid Not Play
Totals 36-8523-2739232598
 42.4%85.2% 
Minnesota
M. Beasley, PF4512-203-397130
K. Love, PF415-125-5112116
W. Johnson, SG368-122-203224
L. Ridnour, PG323-76-7411112
D. Milicic, C207-90-053414
M. Webster, SG234-91-11029
J. Flynn, PG161-30-02333
C. Brewer, SF131-23-72005
N. Pekovic, C130-20-05030
K. Koufos, C10-10-00000
S. Telfair, PGDid Not Play
A. Tolliver, PFDid Not Play
W. Ellington, SGDid Not Play
S. Gaines, PGDid Not Play
G. Stiemsma, CDid Not Play
L. Hayward, SFDid Not Play
Totals 41-7720-25392917113
 53.2%80.0% 
Other Games
Orl 104 Final
NJ 88
Det 100 Final
Char 105
Atl 95 Final
Mil 80
Dal 103 Final
OKC 93
Tor 85 Final
Mem 96
Wash 93 Final
Hou 100
Port 96 Final
Utah 91
LAC 100 Final
Sac 99
Phi 95 Final
GS 110