MINNEAPOLIS – Chris Kaman scored 20 points and the New Orleans Hornets snapped a four-game losing streak with a 95-89 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, who played their first game Saturday night since losing star point guard Ricky Rubio for the season to a knee injury.
Jarrett Jack had 17 points and seven assists for the Hornets, who won for the 10th time all season thanks to 28 assists on 39 buckets.
Kevin Love had 31 points and 16 rebounds after missing the previous game with back spasms, but the Timberwolves couldn't shake the disappointment of losing Rubio in time to beat the Hornets.
The Hornets used an 11-0 run early in the fourth quarter to hold on and pick up their fifth road win of the season.
Missing their primary ball-handler and offensive sparkplug, the Wolves turned the ball over 17 times, which led to 25 Hornets points.
Greivis Vasquez scored 12 points for New Orleans, which had dropped eight of its last 10 games. He scored five points and assisted on another bucket in the late surge that gave the Hornets an 85-74 lead with 4:55 to play.
Love scored eight points during a 13-4 surge that cut it the deficit to two points with 18 seconds to play. But Jack and Marco Belinelli hit some clutch free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
The Timberwolves just didn't have the sizzle that has made them one of the most entertaining watches in the league this season. That energy and buzz was taken away when Rubio hit the deck late in the game against the Lakers on Friday night. Rubio tore the ACL in his left knee and will miss the rest of the season.
In their first game without their floor leader and tone setter, everyone seemed to be searching, for the right combinations on the floor, the right rotations on defense and the easy shots on offense that Rubio so often set up for them.
Coach Rick Adelman dug deep into his bench, playing Wayne Ellington more than 10 minutes for the just the second time in 15 games and second-round draft pick Malcolm Lee made his NBA debut after missing most of the first two months because of knee surgery. Luke Ridnour moved over to the starting point guard and Martell Webster started at shooting guard. The backcourt combined to go 6 for 18 for the game.
Kaman had his way with Nikola Pekovic early, hitting an array of soft jumpers and layups off of some beautiful interior passing. His jumper from the elbow capped an 8-0 run that gave New Orleans a 61-50 lead midway through the third quarter.
The Wolves battled back to tie it at 74 three minutes into the final quarter, but Vasquez hit a teardrop in the lane, fed Gustavo Ayon for an alley-oop and hit a 3-pointer during the 11-0 run to bury Minnesota.
Pekovic finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds and Ridnour had 14 points and 10 assists for the Wolves.
NOTES: The Timberwolves announced a crowd of 20,123, the first time in franchise history the Wolves have had back-to-back home crowds topping 20,000 fans. They have sold out eight times this season, the most since 2003-04. ... Ridnour missed his first free throw attempt of the night, snapping a string of 40 straight.