The Hornets fell behind quickly as the Timberwolves jumped out to a 7-2 lead less than a minute into the game. The Hornets quickly responded with a 15-2 run with a bunch of easy baskets on the interior against a porous Wolves defense. The Wolves started putting up more resistance defensively as their bunch unit trickled in and eventually took the lead back from the Hornets. Malik Beasley dominated the quarter with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting. His four 3-pointers made were four more than the Hornets made as a team in the quarter.
Terry Rozier finally gave the Hornets their first 3-point make in the game off an open look in the corner from Malik Monk. He got a fortuitous bounce for his second 3-pointer, which was followed up by a pair of Cody Zeller and-1s. LaMelo Ball hit a couple triples at the start of a fun little back and forth between he and fellow rookie Anthony Edwards. Their exchange of offense was the part of a breakneck ending to the half where both teams fired up a lot of early shots. At the half, the Hornets led by one.
Malik Beasley recaptured his first quarter glory to open the second half and jump start a back and forth barrage of jump shots between the two teams to start the second half. The Wolves, especially Anthony Edwards, picked on Biz defensively and got a number of buckets on the Hornets backup center. Ball clearly wasn’t going to be overshadowed by his rookie classmate and had an answer for all of Edwards’ buckets. Devonte’ Graham capped off the quarter with a coast to coast drive and floater at the buzzer to give the Hornets a five point lead.
The Hornets clearly thought the five point lead was too generous, so they let the Wolves score six straight points to start the quarter. That Timberwolves run gave Rozier some juice, and he scored six straight points for the Hornets to restore their lead. A Ball steal and assist to Zeller for an easy fast break dunk put the Hornets at the century mark and forced a Ryan Saunders timeout. Ball’s time in the fourth quarter was interrupted by foul trouble, but the Hornets were able to keep the offense afloat in his absence with timely 3-pointers from Malik Monk and Gordon Hayward, who both had struggled mightily most of the night.
Karl Anthony-Towns tried to single handedly steal the win for the Wolves with two tough 3-pointers, but Terry Rozier answered each one with tricky 3-pointers of his own. Malik Beasley gave the Hornets a hand by rushing a difficult 3-pointer before hot hand Towns had a chance to touch the ball, then the Hornets made one more defensive stand to put the game away. Rozier was able to get some free throws off Wolves take fouls to cross the 40 point threshold.
Rozier was the obvious star of the night with his 41 points and key buckets down the stretch. LaMelo Ball had a big night of his own, scoring 20 points to go along with 11 rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Miles Bridges notched his franchise record breaking fourth straight double double off the bench with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Cody Zeller chipped in a quiet 17 points and eight rebounds.
The Hornets will continue their homestand with a Valentine’s Day date with the San Antonio Spurs.