Notebook: Timberwolves 115, Hornets 86

Posted Feb 2, 2013 11:57 PM

By Phil Miller, For

THE FACTS: Dante Cunningham didn't miss a shot Saturday night, setting a Minnesota Timberwolves record by going 9-for-9 from the field, and his 18 points helped lead the Timberwolves to their most lopsided victory of the season -- 115-86 over the slumping New Orleans Hornets.

Minnesota (18-26) opened a 19-point lead in the first quarter alone, eventually widened it to 34 and never allowed the Hornets (15-33) to get closer than 23 points after that, snapping a six-game losing streak with a convincing 29-point victory. New Orleans, which lost its fourth straight game to close out a five-game road trip, was led by Anthony Davis with 18 points.

One night after committing 22 turnovers in an ugly loss in Denver, the Hornets, playing without still-recuperating guard Eric Gordon, committed 23 more. They also dropped to 1-19 on the season when allowing 100 or more points.

QUOTABLE: "I'm just glad he didn't get hurt."

-- Wolves coach Rick Adelman, asked his reaction to Ricky Rubio's spectacular behind-the-back dribble

THE STAT: 7-26 -- New Orleans' record when Gordon doesn't play; the Hornets are 8-7 when Gordon, who has missed most of the season with a knee injury, is in uniform.

TURNING POINT: The Wolves all but wrapped up this victory the day the NBA schedules were announced. New Orleans' visit to Minneapolis was the final game of a five-games-in-seven-days road trip that took them to the West Coast, and was their fourth game in five nights. The Wolves, though on a six-game losing streak, have been home since last Saturday. The difference in road-weariness was evident from the opening tip.

QUOTABLE II: "I didn't have the guys ready to ball. That falls square on my shoulders, and right in my face. ... We got embarrassed, and that is unacceptable."

-- Hornets coach Monty Williams

HOT: Cunningham had been in a shooting slump for a month -- he had made only 39.4 percent of his shots in 2013 -- but he almost made up for it in one night. The fourth-year forward went 9forf-9 from the field, setting a franchise record for most shots made without a miss and making him the Wolves' high scorer for the first time this season. Cunningham had 18 points off the bench, to go with four rebounds and two steals.

NOT: New Orleans' defense was virtually non-existent against the Wolves. Minnesota made 58.4 percent of its field-goal tries, topping its previous best this season by four percentage points, and the worst performance by a Hornets defense this year. It's also the third straight game that the Hornets' opponent made at least half of its shots.

FANTASY SPOTLIGHT: Hornets center Robin Lopez isn't as accomplished as his All-Star-bound brother, Brook Lopez, but he's on a roll lately. Lopez was 7-for-10 against Minnesota, and has made 65.8 percent of his shots (25-for-38) over the past four games, albeit all losses. Not coincidentally, he's also reached double figures in all four games, matching his longest such stretch of the season.

INSIDE THE ARENA: Former NBA guard Bobby Hansen, who won an NBA championship in 1992 with the Bulls, was in attendance. Hansen is an analyst on radio broadcasts of Iowa basketball.

GOOD MOVE: Rubio kept the Target Center crowd interested during a lopsided game with a handful of dazzling plays, including three alley-oop lobs. The most dramatic came late in the third quarter when, after an Andrei Kirilenko 3-pointer gave Minnesota a 26-point lead, Rubio stepped in front of Greivis Vasquez to steal the inbounds pass. He then arced a high pass that Cunningham grabbed far above the rim and slammed home.

BAD MOVE: New Orleans forward Ryan Anderson had made 16 3-pointers in the Hornets' previous four games, so when the Hornets fell behind quickly, he started launching shots. It didn't work; Anderson, whose 144 3-pointers made this season are the most in the league, was only 1-for-5 on Saturday, breaking his streak of four straight games with at least three.

ROOKIE WATCH: Wolves guard Alexey Shved has come back strong after sitting out five games with a sprained ankle; his 12 points on Saturday give him a 14.0-point average in the three games since his return. He also added a team-high eight assists against the Hornets.

NOTABLE: For the second time this week, the Hornets' Gordon sat out the second night of a back-to-back. But Gordon's right knee, which kept him out of 29 games this season due to soreness in his patella, wasn't the entire reason for this night off. Gordon said he played Friday night in Denver with a sore back, a new injury that has affected his shooting accuracy. ... With the Timberwolves holding a 30-point lead in the fourth quarter, their largest of the season, reserve Lou Amundson played the final eight minutes and matched his season-high with eight points. That's one-third of his season total of 24 points coming in. ... All 24 players who appeared in the game scored. ... Minnesota outscored New Orleans 58-32 in the paint, and Wolves reserves outscored the Hornets' bench, 68-40.

UP NEXT: For the Hornets, Wednesday vs. Suns, Friday @ Atlanta, Feb. 10 @ Toronto. For the Timberwolves, Monday vs. Trail Blazers, Wednesday vs. Spurs, Friday vs. Knicks.