Short-handed Hornets beat Timberwolves

NEW ORLEANS — Sean Marks dunked with 7.8 seconds left to cap a career-high 18-point effort, and the short-handed New Orleans Hornets overcame the ejection of David West in a 101-97 victory on Sunday night

Rasual Butler scored 23 and Devin Brown 14 for New Orleans, which won its second straight while handing Minnesota its third-straight loss.

Al Jefferson led Minnesota with 25 points and 14 rebounds, but had to be helped off the court inside the final 30 seconds with an apparent right knee injury.

New Orleans, already starting the game without All-Star Chris Paul (groin) and starting center Tyson Chandler (ankle), lost another All-Star when West was ejected late in the second quarter.

West was called for a flagrant-2 foul when he chopped down over the back of Mike Miller’s shoulder as Miller attempted a fast-break layup. West’s forearm caught Miller in the face, but Miller remained in the game with no apparent injury.

Making matters worse, Peja Stojakovic, who hit seven 3s in a season-high 28-point performance in New Orleans’ most recent victory Friday night, was only 1-for-10 from the field until late in the fourth quarter against Minnesota.

The Hornets escaped with the victory only because they got the best performances they’ve seen from Marks, acquired in the offseason, and point guard Antonio Daniels, who arrived in a trade after the season began. Daniels had 12 points and seven assists while starting for Paul.

The Hornets finished with 42 points from reserves, including Brown’s total and nine points from James Posey.

Jefferson had all of his points during the first three quarters. Swarmed by defenders in the final period, he got off only two shots and missed both. He then landed awkwardly on his right leg after attempting to block Marks’ dunk attempt with 27.2 seconds to go. Jefferson was called for a foul on the missed shot, then hopped toward the sideline before falling to the floor. He did not put any weight on his right leg as he was helped to the locker room.

Marks made only one free throw to put New Orleans up 95-94, then Marks fouled Minnesota’s Randy Foye, who made both free throws to put Minnesota back in the lead with 16.8 seconds left.

After Marks’ dunk put New Orleans ahead again, Minnesota looked for a fast break the other way, but Sebastian Telfair’s cross-court pass sailed out of bounds behind Miller.

Minnesota was then forced to foul and the Hornets got the ball to Stojakovic, who despite a lousy night from the field did not miss any of his seven free throws in the game and finished with 11 points.

Minnesota’s loss wasted a strong performance by Ryan Gomes, whose five 3-pointers were a career-high for a single game. Gomes finished with 21 points, while Telfair had 14 points and Kevin Love 12.

After scoring only one point in the first quarter, West appeared to be coming on strong in the second, when he scored eight points on several strong inside moves and a mid-range jump shot. But West seemingly lost his cool when he thought he was fouled while turning the ball over. No foul was called, and as West ran back on defense he committed the flagrant foul on Miller with 1:53 to go in the period.

The Hornets trailed 48-43 when West was thrown out, but pulled to 52-49 by halftime.

Notes: West’s flagrant foul will be reviewed by the league and

could result in a suspension. … New Orleans plays at Memphis on Monday night, then hosts defending champion Boston on Wednesday night before breaking for All-Star weekend. … The Timberwolves have lost six of seven games.

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