- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 18, 2009

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Chris Paul capped a 26-point, 10-assist, five-steal performance by setting up David West’s dunk with 12.6 seconds left that gave the New Orleans Hornets a 94-93 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.

Minnesota’s Randy Foye missed a 17-foot jumper as time expired, allowing New Orleans to escape with the victory. But it was an officials’ review of a long-range shot Foye made earlier in the fourth quarter that also affected the outcome. The shot was initially ruled a 3, but the Wolves had a point taken off the board after a replay review during a timeout a few minutes later.

Kevin Love had 23 points and 11 rebounds for the Timberwolves.

West was only 3-of-13 shooting, but was 8-of-10 on free throws and scored nine of his points in the last 3:24. Rasual Butler also had 14 points, and Hilton Armstrong, starting at center for Tyson Chandler, added 12.

Ryan Gomes had 17 points for Minnesota, while Rodney Carney added 12, Foye 11 and Sebastian Telfair 10.

No team led by double digits in the second half and the game was tied at 66 late in the third quarter after Love’s putback. Just as the crowd began to groan, the Hornets appeared to come to life when Morris Peterson’s 3 sparked an 8-0 run during the last 1:21 of the quarter. Paul capped the surge by spinning a driving floater off the glass as he was fouled, and New Orleans led 74-66.

Despite being out of the playoff race, Minnesota refused to pack it in. Craig Smith hit a jump hook, two free throws and scored inside during a 9-2 Timberwolves run to open the final quarter, pulling Minnesota to 76-75. The Wolves took their first lead on Love’s ball-fake and driving dunk with 5:03 to go. Minutes later, Telfair sandwiched two 3s around a driving layup to help Minnesota take a what was initially thought to be a 90-85 with 2:39 left, but the officials’ review of Foye’s shot made it 89-85.

The Hornets then went on a 7-2 run, taking a 92-91 lead on West’s free throws with 1:12 left

Minnesota went back in front once more on Love’s free throws with 28 seconds to go. Then Paul set up the winning basket by dribbling into a crowd in the lane and feeding West with a bounce pass underneath.

Chandler sat out to rest his sore left ankle. A night earlier, San Antonio defeated Minnesota with Tim Duncan taking a night off. The Hornets nearly weren’t as lucky, though it looked like they’d roll to a blowout early on.

Armstrong scored eight of his points in the first half, including a dunk after an offensive rebound to give the Hornets a 36-26 lead in the second quarter. Soon after, New Orleans took its largest lead of the half when Butler’s 3 made it 44-31.

Carney responded with a 3 of his own, which began a 13-4 Minnesota run to close out the period. Gomes hit a 3 and Carney added two fast-break layups during the surge, which cut New Orleans’ lead to 48-44 at halftime.

Notes:@ Hornets swingman Peja Stojakovic missed his eighth straight game with a sore back. Head coach Byron Scott said Stojakovic should be ready to return soon. … Armstrong’s eight rebounds was a season high. … A Hornets employee appeared to seriously injure his ankle after using a trampoline to dunk a ball during a timeout in the third quarter. His left leg was folded under him as he landed awkwardly on padding set up below the hoop. His foot was turned sideways as he dangled his leg and he had to be helped off the court. Team officials said they could not discuss the injury because of privacy concerns. … The Hornets are 35-3 when leading after the third quarter. … Minnesota is 4-31 when scoring fewer than 100 points.

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