Claxton Lifts Hornets Past Wolves
New Orleans/Oklahoma City 100, Minnesota 94
MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 11 (Ticker) -- Speedy Claxton is making up for the absence of Chris Paul.
Claxton scored 21 of his 28 points in the second half as the New Orleans Hornets posted a 100-94 victory over the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves.
"I started off real slow in the first half," Claxton said. "But I was able to hit that three at the buzzer (at the end of the half), and I think that that's what got me going."
The 5-11 Claxton, who finished one point shy of matching his career Saturday, came up big in the fourth quarter along with Kirk Snyder, who scored a career-best 28 points. The duo combined for 15 of the Hornets' 24 fourth-quarter points.
"We went away from our normal offense most of the night because of the way they were playing," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "A lot of it was because they were playing some zone well. We tried to exploit certain match-ups where we had the advantage. Most of that was on the guard play and those two guys (Claxton and Snyder) took advantage of it."
After the Hornets built a 76-67 lead entering the final period, the Timberwolves responded with a 9-0 run to tie the game. Mark Blount's jumper ignited the surge and he capped it with a follow shot.
"We had a nice lead going into the fourth quarter, but they came right back at us," Scott said. "So I had to bring Kirk and (Desmond) Mason back in and they did an excellent job of rebounding the ball."
The Wolves took the lead, but Claxton's jumper with 1:57 to go tied the game at 90-90. Snyder drilled a 3-pointer 25 seconds later before Claxton added back-to-back jumpers for a 97-92 lead with 31 seconds left.
"They kept going under the screen and giving me the jumper," Claxton said. "And I just knocked 'em down. They were just like lay-ups. I hit that shot every day in practice and tonight it transfered over to the game."
"Speedy did a good job in the fourth quarter," Timberwolves star Kevin Garnett said. "He had a nice little streak and we never recovered from that."
Claxton made 11-of-22 shots and added seven assists and Snyder went 9-of-12 from the floor, helping the Hornets to their seventh win in eight games.
"Coach (Scott) does a really good job with us (the backcourt)," Snyder said. "He knows how to recruit and train people. He knows what kinds of guys he needs for his system. Guys have the ability to flourish in his system because he knows how to use people and their abilities."
Mason collected 14 points and nine rebounds for the Hornets, who shot 46 percent (36-of-78) overall.
"The small things hurt us tonight," Garnett said. "We probably took some quick shots trying to be aggressive. We probably should have slowed down the tempo as little."
Garnett had 19 points and 21 rebounds and Ricky Davis scored 23 points for Minnesota. Despite owning a 54-35 cushion in rebounding and 20-9 edge in assists, Minnesota lost for the sixth time in seven games.
"We won every (statistical) category there is tonight," Minnesota coach Dwane Casey said. "But we didn't execute down the stretch and we had a couple of defensive breakdowns, communication-wise."