When: 8:00 p.m. EST
Where: Targer Center; Minneapolis, MN
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
The Charlotte Hornets have dropped two straight games against tough western conference competition. After the Utah Jazz won going away on Friday night, Anthony Davis put on a show in a New Orleans Pelicans victory in the Queen City. Tonight, the Hornets are on the road as they face the new look Minnesota Timberwolves. Tom Thibodeau’s team used a second half comeback to beat the Houston Rockets 103-91 at home on Monday night.
With the home loss to the Pelicans, the Hornets are now under .500 and looking to avoid their first three game losing streak of the season. The team has hit a rough patch and it got worse with the news that Marvin Williams will be out with a shoulder injury. There are plenty of options for head coach James Borrego to use. Expect extended minutes for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and even Miles Bridges playing as a small ball four.
The Hornets need Kemba Walker to get out of his extended shooting slump. After scoring 60 against the Sixers and 43 against the Celtics in back to back games, he went into a major funk. He is averaging 19.6 points per game and shooting 37.5% from the field in his last seven games. That trend has to change against a Minnesota team that has played very well as of late. It is a very different Timberwolves team because of a huge trade that they made a few weeks ago.
Minnesota traded star guard/forward Jimmy Butler to the Philadelphia 76ers for Robert Covington, Dario Saric, and two future second round picks. It was a move that sent ripples throughout the NBA and the Sixers became immediate contenders in a much improved eastern conference. However, most people believed that the Timberwolves would just fade away without their best player. That has not been the case.
The team had been in turmoil early in the season. From Jimmy Butler beating the starters in practice with a bunch of third stringers to him calling out every Timberwolves staff member that was within shouting distance, this team had a terrible start to the campaign. A loss to the surprisingly good Sacramento Kings on November 9th prompted this trade and since then, the Timberwolves are a whole different team.
Adding Robert Covington has paid off well so far as the teams defense has been stellar since the trade. The team is now 8-3 since the departure of Jimmy Butler and is looking to continue their march toward the the playoff picture. The career renaissance of Derrick Rose and improved play from Karl-Anthony Towns has led to the recent success for the Timberwolves. Rose is shooting 48.7% from three which is a shocker considering he has never been a great jump shooter.
The Hornets have to play better defensively if they want to beat quality teams like the Timberwolves (and the Denver Nuggets who they play on Friday night). This is a very winnable game for Charlotte, but it won’t be easy in the Target Center. It is tough to win there especially with how great Minnesota has looked over the last few weeks. We will see if the Hornets can avoid their longest losing streak of the season tonight against the Timberwolves.