NEW ORLEANS LA - DECEMBER 26: Chris Paul #3 and David West #30 of the New Orleans Hornets sit on the floor before being substituted into the game while playing the Atlanta Hawks at the New Orleans Arena on December 26 2010 in New Orleans Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and or using this photograph User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Game Time: 7pm CST.
The TImberwolves Outlook
The T-Wolves are a bunch of really bad players plus Kevin Love. Seriously, look at the T-Wolves four factors: they're significantly below average in all factors on offense and defense, except for rebounding. And Kevin Love is the only reason the T-Wolves are good at rebounding – only one other T-Wolf that has played over 500 minutes has a total rebounding percentage above 10% (Darko Milicic, 12%).
They have the fastest pace in the NBA, a strategy that has probably made it harder for them to play defense (second-worst Defensive Rating in the league). Their offense isn't as putrid as their defense, but they're still worse at offense than the Hornets, and come in at second-worst in the Western Conference. Michael Beasley (remember him?) is the team's leading scorer, but he's a high-volume, low-efficiency scorer.
The Hornets Matchup
If ever there was a matchup to end the Hornets' road woes, it's the Timberwolves. Minnesota's greatest strength is offensive rebounding (second best in the league, due almost entirely to Kevin Love), and that advantage should be neutralized by the Hornets' excellence in defensive rebounding (second best in the league, basically tied with the Magic). The Hornets are clearly the better team, so we'll see if their road problems have developed into a mental block.
UPDATE: Jersey Contest
Here's today's contest. Updated leaderboard tomrorow.