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Howard, Kaminsky lead Hornets past Timberwolves 118-102

Dwight Howard had 25 points and 20 rebounds while Frank Kaminsky scored 24 points off the bench in a decisive win over the Wolves.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Charlotte Hornets Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets evened up the season series with the Minnesota Timberwolves Monday night thanks in large part to two big performances by two of the Hornets’ big men.

Dwight Howard turned in a vintage Dwight Howard performance with 25 points, 20 rebounds and four blocked shots. This was Howard’s 49th career 20-20 game, and even Minnesota’s hack-a-Howard strategy was rendered useless due to Howard hitting on nine of his 14 free throw attempts.

Howard, who used to be the best big man in basketball, had his way with Karl-Anthony Towns, who’s currently one of the league’s best bigs. Offensively, Howard was able to post up Towns all night long, and on the defensive end he held KAT to a largely inconsequential 18 points.

If Howard wasn’t the best player on the court, that honor would be bestowed upon Frank Kaminsky.

Kaminsky, coming off a dreadful 1-of-9 outing against the Clippers Saturday night, rebounded in a large way with 24 points in 22 minutes off the bench. The jump shots that kept rimming out against Los Angeles two night ago hit their mark Monday night, allowing Kaminsky to go 9-of-15 from the floor and hit on four of his five 3-point attempts. He wasn’t gobbling up rebounds at the same rate Howard was, but his scoring more than compensated for his three rebounds.

Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum had nearly identical stat lines tonight. Each player attempted 12 shots overall and five from behind the arc. Both had four rebounds, while Batum had three assists and Walker had two. Batum had 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting and Walker had 14 on 4-of-12. Jeremy Lamb was able to overcome a strained calf and had 16 points on a nice 6-of-9 shooting effort.

If the guard play was solid, the Hornets’ wings were either inefficient or completely absent tonight.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had eight points but needed 12 shots to get to that figure. None of those dozen shots came from three or the free throw line. Marvin Williams had two points in 25 minutes and rookie Dwayne Bacon went scoreless. Both Williams and Bacon missed every field goal they attempted.

For Charlotte, tonight’s win followed a similar formula to the one used in their win over the Clippers Saturday night: They had the edge in rebounding, assists and points in the paint, and defensively they held the Timberwolves in check—especially from three, where Minnesota only hit six of their 27 attempts. The only difference between this win and the Saturday’s win was the Hornets were more careless with the ball tonight. Charlotte’s 17 turnovers helped keep Minnesota in the game.

Still, Minnesota’s highly regarded nucleus was held in check tonight. Karl Anthony-Towns had one of the quieter 18-point, 12-rebound performances you’ll ever see. He collected most of his points at the free throw line when the game was mostly decided. Jeff Teague had 18 points but needed 18 shots to get there, and both Andrew Wiggins and Jimmy Butler had more shots than they had points.

Every single Minnesota player who played more than one minute tonight had a negative net rating. Conversely, all but two Hornets—Dwayne Bacon and Malik Monk (who only played the last 67 seconds of the game)—had a positive net rating. Coming into tonight’s game, Charlotte was 4-0 when all five starters had a plus rating. Tonight they improved that mark to 5-0.

The Hornets return to the court Wednesday night and will get a chance to make up some ground in the Southeast as the division-leading Washington Wizards visit the Spectrum Center.