Or so it looked early on: Minnesota shot over 60 percent in the first half to nail down a 57-51 lead. The Hornets recovered and then some in the third, outscoring the Timberwolves 29-18 and going up by five. In the fourth quarter, seemingly no one could score: through seven and a half minutes, the Bees picked up a mere six points, the Wolves only five. It was 96-94 in the last second, and the Wolves’ Hail Mary shot at the buzzer fell away, leaving the Hornets with an unattractive but necessary win.
Minnesota had six players in double figures, though Kevin Garnett didn’t get there until the very end. Reserve guard Rashad McCants led the Wolves with 17; the Minnesota bench was good for 45 points, and the Big Ticket had a lowish 13 points and a solid 12 rebounds. The Wolves tried 23 treys, and made 14 of them.
Chris Paul led all scorers with 18, and ten dimes to boot. Also with a double-double: Marc Jackson, with 15 points and 11 boards. (The Bees attempted thirty from beyond the arc, and connected on eight; Marcus Vinicius, who played six minutes, got one of them, his second of the season.)
Five to go, and two of them are against the eighth-place Los Angeles Clippers, who will be at the Ford Center Tuesday. (The last Oklahoma City game is Friday, against the Nuggets; the season ends with three on the road, against the Rockets, the Kings, and finally the Clippers.)