Wesley Johnson shines in Timberwolves' 113-98 victory over the Hornets
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Minnesota Timberwolves guard Wesley Johnson had 24 points in Monday's 113-98 win over the New Orleans Hornets.
It was a career high for Johnson, and the win matched a season-high win streak of two games for the Wolves.
It was also the first time this season the Wolves have beaten a team with a winning record.
"I thought our guys did an incredible job," Wolves coach Kurt Rambis said. "I thought they did a really, really good job at both ends of the floor, especially coming off a back-to-back scenario where we are traveling."
Johnson, the rookie out of Syracuse, shot a blistering hot 8-of-12 from the field and was 6-of-8 from behind the arc in 35 minutes.
The Wolves pulled away in the third quarter and Johnson was a big reason why, hitting three consecutive 3-pointers in a two minute span.
It was the 13th time this season Johnson has scored in double-figures, nine of which have come inside Target Center.
"I told him, 'Stop second-guessing your shot,'" Michael Beasley said. "He shoots too good to second-guess his shot and he followed my advice."
Before Monday, the Wolves hadn't won back-to-back games since Nov. 10 and 11 against Sacramento and New York.
Most important, however, was that the Wolves -- who have become known for blowing leads -- held a double-digit lead and showed the killer instinct in finishing out a game that has been severely lacking.
Using terms and phrases like "momentum" and "turning point" is dangerous when talking about a team that just won their eighth game, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.
"When we play like that, we are hard to beat," Beasley said.
The Wolves played exceptional help defense and shut the Hornets down the final three quarters, allowing 22, 20, 21 points in the final three frames.
"Those are the kind of numbers you hope you can get every night," Rambis said.
"First quarter wasn't too pretty but the next three was exactly what we wanted to do, hold them under 25 points a quarter and get out and move the ball on offense," Beasley said.
Beasley scored a game-high 30 points on 12-of-20 shooting and also added nine rebounds and seven assists.
The Wolves also showed an improved sense of ball movement, totaling 29 team assists – just one shy of their season-high.
"That is the type of team game overall, offensively and defensively, we are really pushing our guys to get to, so I was really pleased with that," Rambis said. "I thought we got contributions from everybody tonight."
This was only the second time this season that all five of the Wolves starters have scored in double-figures.
Kevin Love shook off a slow start to keep his streak of 18 games with a double-double alive, scoring 16 points and collecting 11 boards.
Love leads the league with 27 double-doubles this season but has started slowly for a second straight night, something that is troublesome to his coach.
"I am not too happy with it. That is something he is going to have to be able to handle. Get himself prepared to do. Getting involved in the game plan, whatever it takes," Rambis said. "Whatever it takes to get himself ready to play, focused and energized at the very beginning of the ball game, he is going to have to find a way to do."