for this game

Timberwolves finally hold big lead, down Hornets

Nov 27, 2007 - 5:56 AM By Ed Cassiere PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- The Minnesota Timberwolves didn't let a big lead slip away this time.

Two days after losing a 21-point lead and the game to the Atlanta Hawks at home, the Timberwolves built another 21-point advantage Monday and held on for a 103-94 road victory over the New Orleans Hornets.

Marko Jaric scored a career-high 21 points and veteran reserve Antoine Walker scored 17 to help the Timberwolves snap a five-game losing streak and earn their first road victory of the season.

Sebastian Telfair scored 14 of his season-high 20 points in the second half to help Minnesota's bench outscore New Orleans' reserves, 54-25.

"We've been in every game, but we just haven't found ways to win," Minnesota coach Randy Wittman said. "Our bench was huge. Some of our starters struggled, but that's why you have a bench. We think we have a lot of guys who can play."

The Timberwolves outshot the Hornets and outscored them 21-6 from 3-point range to take a 58-37 halftime lead. Minnesota held a double-digit advantage for most of the second half until it saw its lead dip to seven with 1:57 left in the game.

However, Telfair hit five of his six free throws down the stretch for Minnesota, which avenged a 100-82 home loss to New Orleans on November 17.

"That loss (to Atlanta) helped us tonight," Jaric said. "We all knew that loss was a bad feeling. We knew we needed to change something to help us close out games."

Timberwolves forward Al Jefferson wasn't as focused on that game against the Hawks.

"You think we were thinking about the Atlanta game when we were up 21?" Jefferson asked. "We weren't. This was a totally different team. When we were up at halftime, there was no way we were going to come out and not respond.

"Coach Wittman did a great job showing us the difference between the first half and the second half against Atlanta."

Jefferson scored 14 points and reserve Craig Smith chipped in 10 for the Timberwolves.

New Orleans scored the first seven points of the second half to cut its deficit to 14, but the Hornets never got closer in the third quarter. Telfair's 3-pointer at 2:12 made it 76-56.

Chris Paul scored a season-high 31 points, Peja Stojakovic added 17 and Bobby Jackson netted 14 for New Orleans, which lost its third straight at home and fourth in five games overall.

"We deserved to get what we got, which was a good whipping," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "We got our butts kicked."

New Orleans forward David West, who has scored in double figures in every game this season, kept his streak alive with a basket in the final two minutes and finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds.

Paul dressed quickly after the game and did not speak to reporters. But West and Tyson Chandler did, and they echoed their coach's criticism.

"We're going to have to come out with more energy to make teams want to guard us," West said. "I know I caught myself hanging out on the side a couple of times just waiting for the shot to go up. We've got to be able to make everyone an option."

Chandler, who averaged 6.3 rebounds in three games since returning from a right-knee hyperextension - he averaged 11.5 before the injury - singled out every Hornet.

"The defense wasn't there tonight from the top to the bottom," Chandler said. "Everybody on this team has got to take this game and look in the mirror and reflect on this."

Meanwhile, the Timberwolves believed their victory was a reflection of realized potential - with more on the way.

"I hope we can keep winning," Jaric said. "We did play well in most of our games this year. If a couple pieces of the puzzle can come together, I think we can start winning. If we just stay relaxed and keep pushing the ball, we'll get more mismatches and suddenly more guys will get open. That's what happened tonight."

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