Okafor leads Hornets past Wolves, 114-86

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Emeka Okafor scored 23 points and the New Orleans Hornets snapped a five-game skid with a 114-86 victory over the woeful Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night.

Darren Collison had 17 points and 11 assists, and fellow rookie Marcus Thornton scored 22 points to help the Hornets win for only the fifth time in 22 games.

Julian Wright added a season-high 16 points, and David West had 10 points and 12 rebounds in the Hornets' final home game of the season.

Ryan Gomes scored 18 points for the Timberwolves, who played without coach Kurt Rambis after he was ejected for arguing a call early in the second quarter. The Wolves have lost five straight and 21 of their last 22 games.

The Hornets' dominating performance allowed George Shinn to enjoy a victory in what was likely his last home game as majority owner of the club he founded in 1988. Shinn sat in his courtside seats next to wife Denise and with his daughter and two sons sitting nearby.

Shinn, who recently underwent treatment for prostate cancer, is negotiating to sell his shares of the club to minority owner Gary Chouest, a Louisiana native and owner of a company that supports the offshore oil and gas industry.

New Orleans led by as much as much as 28 in the third quarter when Okafor's 6-foot hook made it 74-46, capping a 14-4 run that began with Okafor's 14-foot jumper and included a 3-pointer by Morris Peterson. The game was never in doubt after that as Minnesota got no close than 18 points.

New Orleans outshot Minnesota 52 percent to 39 percent and outrebounded the Timberwolves 49-30. The Hornets also outscored the Wolves 70-32 in the paint, 18-8 on second-chance points and 23-6 on fast break points.

Al Jefferson returned to the lineup after missing two games while attending to a hospitalized family member, but had only five points and three rebounds in 30 minutes. Ramon Sessions scored 17 points for Minnesota and Jonny Flynn had 11.

Okafor, who came in averaging 10.2 points, scored nine points in the first quarter to help New Orleans to a 25-21 lead.

New Orleans led 31-25 when the Wolves started to implode. Jefferson was called for traveling while attempting a reverse layup. Rambis didn't agree and drew two quick technical fouls, the first from official Eli Roe and the other from Ron Garretson, the second triggering the coach's ejection.

New Orleans then scored the next six points to take a 37-25 lead.

Minnesota shot only 33 percent in the quarter (4 of 12), while the Hornets shot 63 percent (12 of 19).

Flynn, who had nine points in the first half, cut the Wolves' deficit to eight with two free throws with 3:28 to go in the second period. James Posey then hit a 3, igniting an 11-0 run to close the quarter and widen the Hornets' lead to 19 at 58-39 at halftime.

NOTES: Rambis' ejection was his first of the season. ... Minnesota (15-65), which plays Monday night in San Antonio, needs one win in its final two games to avoid matching the worst record in franchise history, set in 1991-92. ... The Wolves have lost 11 straight on the road and are 5-35 on the road overall. ... Minnesota has lost five straight in New Orleans and six straight against the Hornets overall. ... Thornton has 20 games with 20 or more points.