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Claxton nets 28 as Hornets get past struggling Wolves

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Kevin Garnett had a simple explanation for
Saturday night's disappointing loss to New Orleans.

"We never adjusted to Speedy," he said.

Subbing for the injured Chris Paul, Speedy Claxton had 28 points
and seven assists, and hit two huge shots in the final 2 minutes to
lift the Hornets over the reeling Minnesota Timberwolves 100-94 on
Saturday night.

Kirk Snyder added a career-high 28 points for the Hornets, who
trailed by five with just over 3 minutes to play.

With Ricky Davis hitting jumpers and the home crowd rocking, the
Timberwolves finally looked as if they would break out a funk that
had them losing nine of their previous 12 games.

But Claxton knocked down two quick jumpers and Snyder added a
rebound dunk and a 3-pointer in a 9-0 run that spanned just over a
minute.

Claxton added one more jumper off a pick-and-roll that got the
Hornets on the way to their second win in a row without their star
rookie Paul, who missed another game with bruised ribs.

"He is a good teammate because he could have cried about not
starting," Snyder said of Claxton. "But he just does his job
whatever role coach puts him in. It is incredible what he was able
to do on the floor."

Davis led Minnesota with 23 points and Garnett added 19 points
and 21 rebounds, but was once again conspicuously absent from the
score sheet in the fourth quarter. Garnett was 0-for-4 in the final
period.

Timberwolves coach Dwane Casey said before the game that he
didn't see Paul's absence as a bonus given the success Claxton has
had against him in the past. His concern proved prophetic.

After getting 18 points and 11 assists in a victory over New
York on Wednesday, Claxton was even better on Saturday night.

"I feel comfortable in the starting role," Claxton said.
"I've started a number of games in my career, so it's nothing new
to me."

The Hornets used a 15-0 run in the third quarter, nearly all of
which came on easy drives to the basket against a toothless
Timberwolves defense, to take a nine-point lead into the fourth.

It took the Timberwolves less than three minutes to erase that
deficit.

With all four former Celtics acquired in the Wally Szczerbiak
trade on the floor -- Davis, Marcus Banks, Justin Reed and Mark
Blount -- the Wolves started the period with an 11-0 run to take a
78-76 lead.

Banks' drive gave the Wolves an 89-84 lead with 3:12 to play
before the Hornets responded with their run in the blink of an eye.

The run erased a horrendous start to the period for the Hornets,
who managed just two points in the first 6 minutes.

"You have to be able to weather the storm," Banks said. "We
weathered it, but then it started raining again. Then it started
snowing. Then it started hailing."

Despite a 54-35 rebounding advantage and the Hornets' slow
fourth-quarter start, the Wolves weren't able to put enough
distance between themselves and Claxton.

Blount added 12 points and five rebounds while Banks finished
with 12 points despite being limited by foul trouble for much of
the night.

The Timberwolves' 10th loss in 12 games -- and fifth in their
last six home contests -- dropped them to 22-28. They have talked
often about needing time to jell after the big seven-player trade
last month, but time is running out.

"Everybody, including the coaches, keep looking forward to the
playoffs, the playoffs," Garnett said. "But we need to focus on
one game at a time instead of looking down the road."

Desmond Mason had 14 points and nine rebounds and David West and
P.J. Brown each had 11 points and seven boards for the Hornets, who
at 27-23 have been one of the surprise success stories in the
league, especially given their displacement from New Orleans to
Oklahoma City in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

"Guys have a gleam in their eye to win," Snyder said. "When
it comes to crunch time, we don't clam up."

Game notes
Paul worked out at Target Center before the game and was
eager to rejoin the lineup, but coach Byron Scott decided to hold
him out again. Scott said the rookie could be ready to return on
Monday against Washington. ... Wolves PG Marko Jaric, who started
the first 46 games, was inactive after losing his spot to Carter.
... Davis got a technical foul for arguing with the officials in
the third quarter.