Williams, Wolves edge Hornets
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Derrick Williams scored a career-high 28 points and Ricky Rubio had 16 with six assists as the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the New Orleans Hornets 97-95 on Sunday night.
The Wolves got a lift in the final seconds from two players who hadn’t seen appeared in a game in more than two weeks when Nikola Pekovic hit two free throws to pull Minnesota ahead for good, and Andrei Kirilenko blocked Eric Gordon’s driving layup with 4.6 seconds to play.
Greivis Vasquez led the Hornets with 24 points and Robin Lopez had 20 points and 11 rebounds.
Minnesota shot 56.3 percent, but New Orleans stayed within striking distance largely because of its work on the offensive boards, scoring 20 second-chance points. Even on bad misses, Lopez was there to rebound or tip the ball to a teammate to keep possessions alive.
The Hornets led by eight thanks to an 18-7 second-quarter run, but Minnesota stayed in it with some aggressive play from Williams, who had his seventh 20-point game of the season and tied a season high with three 3-pointers.
Williams missed a couple of crucial free throws late in the fourth quarter, though, and Vasquez made two 3s to give the Hornets a three-point lead.
But Rubio completed a three-point play with 48 seconds left to pull Minnesota to 95-94. After Gordon missed a mid-range jumper on New Orleans’ ensuing possession, Pekovic was fouled on a tip and went to the line. In his first game back from an abdominal strain, Pekovic had been 1 for 4 from the line but sank both shots to give the Wolves the lead with 14.5 seconds left.
On the Hornets’ next possession, Gordon drove the lane but was blocked by Kirilenko, who had missed nine games with a left-calf strain.
Notes: Pekovic had 13 points and six rebounds. Kirilenko had eight points and five rebounds . ... Williams has scored in double figures in his last 12 games, the longest such streak of his career. ... Hornets F Lou Amundson made his first visit to Minnesota since being acquired on March 12.