The Charlotte Hornets upended the Minnesota Timeberwolves Tuesday night, 104-95, keeping the Timberwolves winless at home this season. This night signaled many things for the Hornets The game signified the last game of an early Western Conference road trip as well as the first game of a stretch of seven games in eleven days. It is also the first game of Charlotte's first back-to-back of the season.
Tonight's victory may have also warned the league of the potential firepower of the Hornets' bench. The unit put up an outstanding 57 points in relief. Jeremy Lamb and Jeremy Lin combined for 37 points as they changed the tune of tonight's game and helped Charlotte secure a road victory.
Shortly before tonight's game began, the Timberwolves announced that Andrew Wiggins, Ricky Rubio and Kevin Garnett would miss tonight's game due to injury or needed rest. P.J. Hairston opened the scoring with a trey but Minnesota would open the game on a 14-3 run behind several early buckets from rookie Karl Anthony-Towns.
The free throw line would propel the Hornets back into the game, scoring 10 consecutive points from the charity strip in one instance as nine consecutive field goals missed their mark. The 3-PT line also helped Charlotte's recovery as Batum hit a trey to tie the game late in the first quarter. Free throws from Lin would give the Hornets a one-point first quarter despite an ugly start.
The second quarter is where Lamb and Lin would take over and push the Hornets to a sizable lead over the T-Wolves. At one point in the game, Charlotte was down by 11 points, but midway through the second quarter, they were up by 11 thanks to 19 consecutive points from Lin and Lamb. Minnesota would claw back late in the quarter but Charlotte took a 63-59 lead into halftime.
Hairston would leave during the second quarter with a migraine and not return. Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson would combine to shoot 1-of-10 from the floor in the first half. Neither were making many gains on the defensive end either as Big Al failed to protect the rim and Walker had a tough time containing Zach LaVine.
Hornets' starters outside of Nicolaus Batum were 3-of-16 from the field while the bench shot 12-of-18 from the floor. Lamb took the court with the starters in the second half after Hairston remained in the locker room. Minnesota would score six quick points to take a two-point lead but Lamb caught a drag screen from Marvin Williams, took one dribble and drilled yet another jumper to tie the game.
Al Jefferson finally found some rhythm in the second half, making his first three attempts from the field in the third quarter. The Hornets did not make a 3-pointer in the third quarter until Batum swished a deep shot with just seconds left in the period, giving Charlotte a five-point heading into the fourth quarter.
The bench unit made their mark once again, beginning the final period of play with three quick baskets to push Charlotte's lead to 11. Minnesota would earn baskets of their own but two field goals in a three minute span from Brian Roberts and a Lin lay-in would keep the lead at 11 for much of the quarter. A clutch basket from Lin followed by an exclamation dunk by Cody Zeller and an emphatic block from Batum would make any comeback futile for Minnesota.
With a new season-high of 19 points, Lin would finish as the team's leading scorer. Lamb would finish with 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting. An active Zeller would pull down six rebounds to go with 14 points. Batum continued as a steady presence on both ends, contributing 17 points, six rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
Charlotte completes its first back-to-back this season as they fly home tonight to meet Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks tomorrow evening. The Hornets will have an opportunity to get to .500 with a win tomorrow night at Time Warner Cable Arena. The game tips at 7:00 p.m. ET.