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Hornets come back from 18 to down T'wolves

The SportsXchange

NEW ORLEANS -- The "Bee-Zanies" are a bunch of crazed New Orleans Hornets fans who show up en masse for each home game, usually in support of a losing cause.

But when scatter-shooting forward Al-Farouq Aminu throws up a moonshot jumper that forms ice before it comes down -- and the ball somehow goes in -- the chant erupts: "Farouq ... Farouq ... Farouq is on fire!"

Fantasy met reality Friday night as the Hornets came from 18 points down to smoke the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-92 at the New Orleans Arena for their fourth consecutive win.

The smell of burning rubber wafting across the upper deck of the arena midway through the fourth quarter caused some initial concern to fire officials inside the building, but the Bee-Zanies had it nailed -- Aminu was on fire, along with a bunch of his teammates.

Aminu grabbed 13 rebounds -- giving him 46 in the last four games -- and used his speed and jumping ability to run the court for 12 points, most of them coming at the end of a transition fast break.

The Hornets (11-25) placed five other players in double figures -- Greivis Vasquez had 18 points to go with 13 assists; Eric Gordon had 16 points, Ryan Anderson had 15, Jason Smith had 14 and Roger Mason had 10.

"At the '3' position, a lot of times I would just leak out, but now I'm making sure we clean up the rebounds," Aminu said. "You just got to pay attention to details to get those rebounds."

Hornets coach Monty Williams said, "Chief (Aminu) does a really good job of running the floor, and when he runs the floor it shrinks the court, so two guys have to go with him to the rim. When Ryan is in the game, it opens it up for him."

The Hornets took full advantage of an injury-riddled Minnesota lineup by posting a 45-15 bench scoring advantage and outrebounding the Timberwolves 44-31. Trailing 29-11 near the end of the first quarter, the Hornets cut into the deficit, trailing 46-40 at halftime, and then outscored Minnesota 30-15 in the decisive third quarter to take command.

"Everything with us starts on the defensive end of the floor," Williams said. "I we can get stops, we can play in transition."

Vasquez, ranked third in the NBA in assists, recorded his third consecutive and 12th overall double-double of the season.

"We started out sloppy and things weren't going our way in the first half, but we ended up being down by six," Vasquez said. "That was the key. The third quarter we played with energy and we got the crowd involved."

Assistant coach Terry Porter said, "They went small a little bit and started knocking down 3s and we had a couple of breakdowns."

Porter filled in for head coach Rick Adelman, who missed his third consecutive game to be with his wife, who is hospitalized in Minneapolis.

Minnesota (16-17) played with only nine players due to injuries to All-Star forward Kevin Love and guard Brandon Roy.

"Oh, we could use somebody, but it is what it is," Porter said. "That's what happens in this league. Injuries are part of it. It's been challenging, but we're not looking for excuses and everybody's got to step on the floor and get it done."

The Timberwolves closed the first quarter on a 20-2 run to take a 29-14 lead. Luke Ridnour, who had a team-high 20 points, keyed the early surge.

Minnesota led 39-22 in the second quarter, but the Hornets ran off 10 consecutive points, sparked by Gordon's floater in the lane and fast-break layup.

The Hornets turned it on in the third quarter, outscoring the Timberwolves 30-15 by shooting 14 of 25 from the floor. New Orleans opened the quarter with a 10-4 run, keyed by a layup and a dunk by rookie forward Anthony Davis.

After Minnesota closed within 59-58 with 3:03 left in the third quarter, the Hornets went on another 17-5 run to pull away.

Notes: The Hornets won their first game in franchise history when an opponent made 18 or more free throws. The Timberwolves were 26-of-33 from the line. ... In addition to All-Star forward Love (fractured right hand) and guard Roy (right knee), the Timberwolves played without guards J.J. Barea (back spasms) and Malcolm Lee (hyperextended right knee). ... In a 113-102 victory at New Orleans Dec. 14, the Timberwolves scored 70 points in the paint. They had 35 Friday. ... The Hornets have strung together four consecutive victories for the first time this season. "We just try our best to keep things in perspective," Williams said. "If we were going to focus on streaks, we'd have to focus on all of them. We just got off of an 11-game losing streak." ... Rookie guard Austin Rivers, the 10th overall pick in the 2012 draft, has struggled with his shooting, going 3-of-23 in his last six games. "Austin needs to not get so down when he's not scoring 40 and 50 points like he did in high school and understand that we have confidence in his abilities, because we know he can play," Williams said.
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