for this game

Hornets use strong first half to rout Timberwolves

Dec 23, 2007 - 5:36 AM By Ed Cassiere PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) - For the New Orleans Hornets, playing the Minnesota Timberwolves at home during Christmas time was the holiday equivalent of finding no crowds and all the right gifts at a mall.

David West scored 22 points and Chris Paul added 19 and 15 assists to lead the Hornets to a 110-76 rout of the Timberwolves on Saturday.

It was the second straight victory and season-high fourth in a row at home for New Orleans.

"It was a great team effort," Paul said. "We jumped on them early. We did a great job rotating out of double-teams and denying Al Jefferson the ball."

The Hornets did it with ease against Minnesota, which has the NBA's worst record and was trying to extend the momentum from a 131-124 victory at Indiana on Friday night.

"We have to aspire to not come down to the level of our competition," said West, who was 9-of-12 from the floor and 4-of-4 from the line. "We've been saying all year we can put seven or eight wins together. We think we're in a stretch now where we can do this."

New Orleans shot 51 percent and set a franchise record by not committing a turnover in the first half en route to a 53-38 halftime lead. The Timberwolves kept pace early on, hitting eight of their first 10 shots to start the game but went just 8-of-31 the remainder of the first half.

Minnesota went scoreless on its final nine possessions of the first quarter after taking a 20-18 lead. The Hornets closed the quarter with a 12-0 run which included three straight steals leading to baskets.

"I didn't know until halftime that we had no turnovers at halftime," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "We did a good job taking care of the basketball. We also came in here thinking defense only.

"Minnesota had some guys coming in here doing well, like Al Jefferson. We wanted to shut them down. When you do that, you usually have a good offensive game."

New Orleans, which held the Timberwolves to 39 percent (31-for-80) shooting and forced 21 turnovers, gradually built a 79-53 lead at the end of the three quarters and led by as many as 36 points late in the fourth.

Paul and West each scored 13 first-half points and Paul added eight assists and four steals. Paul, the NBA's leader in steals, tied his season high of five and collected his third double-double in his last four games.

Ryan Gomes scored a season-high 20 points for Minnesota, which has gone 311 days and 56 games without winning consecutive games. Sebastian Telfair - who had 27 points, 11 assists and just one turnover against Indiana - had nine points, six turnovers and three assists in 39 minutes against the Hornets.

"It starts with me," said Telfair when asked about his team's lack of consecutive victories. "I didn't have the energy I usually have. If I come out turning the ball over or not pushing the ball, we're in trouble."

The double-digit loss was Minnesota's 11th of the season, and the 34-point margin of defeat was its largest in 10 seasons.

"It would be nice if we could play for awhile with a roster that's not going to change," Telfair said. "We always have someone hurt or out. We haven't played consistently with the same guys and I can't tell you when that's going to happen."

Jefferson had 11 points and 13 rebounds, ending his streak of six consecutive games with 20 or more points and 10 or more rebounds.

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