New-look Timberwolves return home to face Hornets
There haven't been many good feelings for the Charlotte Hornets and Minnesota Timberwolves, but one of these teams will go into the All-Star break with a bit of a boost.
The similarities are striking in several respects for these teams, who meet Wednesday night in Minneapolis.
Charlotte holds a 17-36 record, losing five in a row until Monday night's 87-76 victory at Detroit. The Hornets had lost 13 of 14 games.
The Timberwolves are 16-36, winning only once in their last 15 games. They snapped a 13-game slide Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers, then fell 137-126 on Monday night to the Toronto Raptors.
"I feel really good about us going home ... for (our fans) to get a chance to see this group again," Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders said. "Having a good game and then using the break to recharge. And also evaluate and really dissect what we can do moving forward."
Wednesday night's game will mark the home debut for D'Angelo Russell after his arrival in a trade from the Golden State Warriors. He scored 22 points in the Toronto game in his first outing in a Timberwolves uniform.
"You get excited, you see the things he can do," Saunders said. "He doesn't know hardly any of the offense now. He was playing off instinct, off feel."
Minnesota committed a season-high 23 turnovers Monday.
"You almost expect [that to] to happen," Saunders said of the team adjusting to different lineup combinations.
Charlotte wasn't a factor in last week's trade-deadline activity, but the Hornets are adapting to roster shifts based on other factors. That's because last weekend they announced that they had waived veterans Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marvin Williams. This was another indication of the team's emphasis on developing younger players.
Charlotte limited a team to below 80 points for the second time this season by winning at Detroit.
"I think we started with a defensive mentality," Hornets coach James Borrego said. "I give our guys a ton of credit. They took a lot of pride defensively."
Forward Miles Bridges had 18 points to lead the Hornets. But most of the discussion was about the defensive effort.
"It just shows growth," Bridges said. "It shows execution and our discipline on defense."
Like the Timberwolves, the Hornets are introducing players to some new roles.
"Just being versatile, playing with a high motor," Charlotte rookie Jalen McDaniels said. "I feel we were all locked in on defense, that's where it all started."
Charlotte hasn't won consecutive games since Jan. 2 and 4, so this is an opportunity to build on something. Borrego said the team's balance offensively can turn into a positive.
"We want to move the ball and share the ball," Borrego said.
The Timberwolves won an Oct. 25 meeting 121-99 in Charlotte, where Karl-Anthony Towns poured in 37 points during a game in the first week of the season. Towns averages 26.5 points per game.
The Hornets are likely to be without reserve Cody Martin, who has been listed out with a concussion suffered last week.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 11, 2020