NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Jason Smith had a career-high 26 points and 10 rebounds, leading the New Orleans Hornets to a 99-90 victory over the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night.
Smith, who had his third career double-double, made his first eight shots and finished 12 for 16. Chris Kaman added 21 points on 9-for-10 shooting and Greivis Vasquez had 10 assists for New Orleans, which bounced back from its most lopsided loss of the year, 128-104 at San Antonio on Friday.
Kevin Love had 29 points and 12 rebounds for Minnesota, which lost its fifth in a row and 13th in its last 17. Michael Beasley, who was questionable with a toe injury, added 20 points.
New Orleans went ahead for good with a 12-0 run late in the third quarter and led by as many as 12. Minnesota pulled within two twice in the fourth.
The Timberwolves quickly erased almost all of a 12-point deficit to start the fourth quarter. Beasley scored seven points during a 12-2 run in the first 4 minutes, capping it off with a 3 from the top that closed the gap to 81-79 and forced New Orleans to take a timeout with 8:04 left.
New Orleans stretched its lead to 90-83 when Kaman hit two free throws and converted a three-point play off a putback before Beasley sank another 3 to make the score 90-86.
Vasquez scored on a driving layup through and a floater in the lane as the Hornets went up 94-86 with 2:53 left. The Timberwolves’ only points in the last 3:40 came on Love’s bank shot.
The Hornets outshot Minnesota 49 percent to 41 percent and outrebounded the Timberwolves 48-33.
Minnesota, which was 2 for 9 on 3-point attempts in the first half, made four in a little more than 2 minutes during the third quarter. The last one, a wide-open shot from Love in the corner that gave the Timberwolves a 59-57 lead, forced Hornets coach Monty Williams to burn a timeout.
New Orleans responded with a 14-0 run that gave it a 79-67 lead entering the fourth. Al-Farouq Aminu and Vasquez hit 3s as the Hornets went back ahead, and Eric Gordon hit another trey that barely rippled the net to give them a 71-62 advantage.
Carl Landry’s free throws with 24 seconds left gave them their largest lead, 79-67.
The Hornets led 46-41 at the half thanka to flawless shooting from their frontcourt. Smith connected on all eight of his attempts and Kaman was 5 for 5.
(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)