Without those familiar faces to rely on, the heroes in a comeback victory were a player who spent the final two months of 2007-08 on the inactive list; a nine-year NBA veteran who has played so sparingly in his career that hes already set a single-season high for minutes played; and a seven-year pro who already this season has gone from the third-string point guard, to second-string point guard, to moving away from the position altogether, to second-string point guard again.
Rasual Butler, Sean Marks and Devin Brown turned in superb performances for the undermanned Hornets, who posted a second straight fourth-quarter comeback in the New Orleans Arena.
Butler, who is enjoying the best season of his career after experiencing his worst in 2007-08, led New Orleans (30-18) with 23 points on 9-for-15 shooting, scoring six points in the fourth quarter. The Hornets bested the Timberwolves 25-17 in the final stanza, erasing a four-point deficit.
Marks, now on his fifth team in those nine NBA seasons, turned in what was easily his best game in a New Orleans uniform. The native of New Zealand finished with 18 points and five rebounds. He also converted on a go-ahead dunk with 7.9 seconds remaining, putting the Hornets in front by a point.
Brown, who began the season behind Mike James among the point guards but was moved away from the position following the acquisition of Antonio Daniels, came up with a second straight quality outing. Brown again came off the bench but received the nod from Byron Scott in crunch time. He responded with seven points in the final period, part of a 15-point night.
HORNETS POSTGAME QUOTES
ON GAME: Its kind of crazy that in the 4th quarter we were able to get the ball out of Jeffersons hands, with the same game plan as the whole game. We just didnt do a real good job of reacting to them. I just think we were standing around but when we got aggressive we did a real good job of getting it out of (Jefferson) hands on rotation.
Down 84-80 going into the fourth quarter I thought we had a real good opportunity to win the game, we just had to do a better job defensively and I thought we did.
ON THEIR TEAM: We wanted to be aggressive as far as getting to the basket, I dont look at them as a team of having a lot of shot blockers so there is no reason for us to be intimidated at all. We should be just like we were, very aggressive as far as trying to get to the basket.
On the game: Its a big relief to get this win. The last couple of wins have been big for us, good for team morale, and we can hear the crowd yelling and screaming. Its a good feeling out there.
On losing David West: Coach said our backs were against the wall. We can either step up and come out fighting, or sit back and have it handed to us. We all came out tonight and played well. Its tough for us, and we look forward to getting those guys back.
On losing David West: We knew that we had to pick it up on the defensive end once David (West) was ejected. We knew we had to ratchet it up at that point.
On the game: We really turned it up on the defensive end. They did a good job hitting some shots, but we believed that if we continued to play defense and rotate out for the rest of the night, eventually we would wear on them. We just needed to finish possessions with rebounds. We just continued to keep our confidence throughout the ballgame.