Hornets bounce back, wallop Wolves for team-best 55th win

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Chris Paul helped the New Orleans Hornets stay atop the Western Conference and set a team record for wins, too.

Paul had 19 points and 16 assists, and the New Orleans Hornets bounced back to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 122-90 Wednesday night.

Peja Stojakovic scored 24 points and David West had 22 for the Hornets, who scored just 66 points in a loss to Utah on Tuesday and looked sluggish through the first half against Minnesota.

But a 41-point third quarter, capped by Paul's 3-pointer at the buzzer was too much for the woeful Timberwolves.

"I thought in the third and fourth quarter he started to find his rhythm. He started making shots, getting to the basket and being Chris Paul," coach Byron Scott said. "He snapped back well tonight, as did David, as did Peja, as did Tyson [Chandler], as did the whole team."

Chandler finished with 14 points. In the second half, Paul scored 17 points and had nine of his assists.

"We've got to come out early in the game and impose our will. I think about that going into every game, and I think that starts with me." Paul said. "Defensively and offensively it starts with me and I got to start doing a better job."

Rashad McCants had 23 for the Timberwolves, who have lost six straight. Randy Foye scored 20 points for Minnesota, but just four of those came in the final three quarters.

The win gave the Hornets a franchise-best 55 wins, beating the record set in 1996-97.

The Hornets led just 48-46 lead at intermission but Stojakovic -- who finished with five 3-pointers -- sparked a third-quarter surge that put New Orleans in front to stay.

He made back-to-back 3 pointers and a long jumper for a 69-62 lead, and after a jumper and layup from West, Stojakovic again hit from outside the arc to make it 76-62.

Paul ended the 41-point quarter by making a 3-pointer from the corner just before the buzzer, and then looked at the Minnesota bench with his arms extended and palms up as if to say, "What can you do?"

"He always wants to pass first and shoot second, so it's tough when he gets going and the guys around him get going," Foye said. "Early on we were able to control him, but he started finding the guys in the second half and that's what killed us."

Five of Paul's assists came on alley-oops to Chandler. The duo has done that a league-leading 107 times this year.

"My MVP is making everybody around you look better, and he's at the top," Chandler said.

Game notes
New Orleans beat Minnesota by 34 in the team's last meeting on Dec. 22. ... Paul's 16 assists give him 874 on the year to break the franchise record for assists in a season. Muggsy Bogues had 867 in 1989-90. ... The Hornets have most wins of any team against the Western Conference (33). ... Minnesota tied a season-high with 10 3-pointers. ... Greg Buckner, who had 13 points in 31 minutes off the bench for Minnesota Tuesday, did not see action.