Devonte’ Graham scored 24 points and hit six more 3-pointers and Miles Bridges scored 17 points, but they couldn’t overcome Karl-Anthony Towns’ monster night as the Charlotte Hornets fell to the Minnesota Timberwolves, 121-99.
The Hornets blitzed the Wolves to start the game. Miles Bridges made a quick three and Terry Rozier made a couple layups before the Wolves got on the board. An 11-2 run prompted a Timberwolves timeout less than three minutes into the game. PJ Washington kept the good times rolling with a tough 3-pointer on his first decent look of the night to put the Hornets up 19-4. Karl-Anthony Towns eventually asserted himself with two 3-point play opportunities in quick succession, though he struggled to convert at the line. He went on to score 12 points in the quarter and almost single handedly pull his team back into the game. At the break, the Hornets lead was just two.
The sluggishness that plagued the end of the first quarter bled into the second. The offense was stagnant when the Hornets weren’t throwing the ball away and they were fouling the Wolves at every opportunity. The Hornets eventually picked up the intensity as both the Martin twins got into the game at the same time. While KAT tried to take the game over, he was answered at every call by Devonte’ Graham, who hit back to back triples to force a Ryan Saunders timeout. The Wolves reserves finally showed some life in the final minutes of the half to give the Wolves a 58-56 lead at the break.
The wheels fell off in the third quarter. The Hornets scored a respectable 25 points, largely from Miles Bridges and Devonte’ Graham, but they could not get stops for anything. A Terry Rozier steal on an inbound pass was the only defensive stop the Hornets made in the first seven minutes and 43 seconds of the quarter and one of only four stops the Hornets managed in the third quarter as a whole. The Wolves scored 45 points in the frame and broke open a 22 point lead heading into the fourth.
The fourth quarter was essentially garbage time from start to finish, but there were a couple highlights. Cody Martin got his first career bucket in the same manner his twin brother did earlier in the game—catching a lob in transition. PJ Washington and Terry Rozier notched their first double doubles as Hornets, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist made a 3-pointer from above the break. Jalen McDaniels got his first career bucket.
The first half was similarly as exciting as the season opener, but the second half provided a somber reminder of what a lot of this season is going to be like.
It won’t get any easier. The Hornets kick off a west coast road trip against the Lakers on Sunday.