The Charlotte Hornets took on a desperate Minnesota Timberwolves team tonight as both sides were looking for something to get them on the right path. Charlotte is still trying to battle through early season injuries and get back to the incredible basketball they opened the season with. Minnesota on the other hand has been trying to find themselves in a year that has not gone the way they planned.
At the beginning it felt like the Hornets were going to blow Minnesota out of the water and continue the Wolves early season troubles. Charlotte went out to a big double-digit lead early, and the Wolves struggled to make shots. Minnesota’s defense was even worse with multiple occasions of letting Roy Hibbert walk up to the rim with little resistance.
However, come late into the second quarter and things started taking a turn in the Wolves favor. Charlotte’s defense fell off bad, and the Wolves capitalized with multiple looks straight at the rim. In what should have been a blowout half for Charlotte ended up being a close single digit game entering halftime.
If there was one way to describe the first half it would be missed potential. Both sides played their absolute worst basketball with the Hornets nowhere near at the level avid watchers of them have become accustomed to. Even a bad Wolves team has been very good offensively this season, but they couldn’t get anything accomplished on either end till the end of the half.
Then the third quarter started, and the Wolves continued a trend that they have been unable to shake for the entire season. The third quarter has been the Minnesota Achilles heel this season with continuous bad starts coming out of halftime. They routinely get the doors blown off of them in the third, and Charlotte was no different beginning the second half with a 17-4 run. Kemba Walker was huge with 11 points in the quarter and at one point Cody Zeller out-rebounded four Wolves with pure hustle. It was just that kinda quarter for Charlotte, and more of the same for Minnesota.
However, Minnesota managed to weather the storm and were only down 10 points entering the fourth quarter. They used the beginning of the fourth quarter to quickly close the gap. Charlotte’s bench struggled to play consistent most of the night, and Minnesota took advantage of that to great effect. Zach Lavine in particular looked unstoppable. Slowly but surely Charlotte lost their lead and the Wolves tied it up.
What followed was actually some pretty incredible basketball. The Hornets would build up a lead and Minnesota would fight right back. No matter what Charlotte did they couldn't put away a young and talented Wolves team. Rubio had some monster shots at the end, and Andrew Wiggins hit a huge 3-pointer to tie the game. Kemba Walker’s attempted heroics fell short and the game headed to overtime.
Overtime however went completely the wrong direction for what Charlotte wanted. After controlling much of the game the Hornets came into overtime like a different team. Minnesota jumped out to an immediate lead with a couple turnovers capped off by a huge Karl Anthony-Towns dunk. The Hornets were forced to play catchup for the rest of the overtime, and eventually the Wolves outlasted them. Another close loss for Charlotte.
This was unquestionably a bad loss. Minnesota is a very talented team that is much better than their record shows, but the Hornets had this game won and they couldn’t close it out. They also have struggled all season in close games. Theoretically it should bounce back the other way in their favor eventually, but right now a loss is just a loss and this team is too good to justify it otherwise.