Wolves vs Hornets
7 pm CST
Fox Sports North Plus
For all the fans watching last night's game against the Hawks, they will probably agree it was quite the emotional roller coaster. After scoring 72 points in the first half, and leading by 34 at one point, the Wolves allowed Atlanta to come storming back and regain a small lead; fortunately for Minnesota, Andrew Wiggins helped his team hang on to the win.
A win is a win, and despite losing such a huge advantage over their opponents it was encouraging to see the Wolves keep their wits about them in the final minutes and finish out the game on top. After a fourth consecutive road win, they will make a quick turnaround to welcome the Hornets to the Target Center this evening. Will Minnesota be able to grab its first home win of the 2015-16 season?
Playing back-to-back games in different cities is always difficult, but hopefully the momentum from last night's win will carry the Wolves into today's matchup.
Charlotte is currently 2-4, coming off a 20-point loss to San Antonio Saturday night. The Hornets have had a tiring start to their season, playing seven games in 11 days before allowing season highs in points and shooting percentage against the Spurs. You can bet they will be coming to Minnesota set against another loss.
The teams played each other twice during the 2014-15 season, and the Wolves came up short both times. Their last meeting was March 22, in which point guard Mo Williams dropped 24 points against his former team. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Al Jefferson and Gerald Henderson added 18 points apiece, while Kemba Walkder scored 17. The Wolves played without Ricky Rubio and Kevin Garnett; Gorgui Dieng led the team in scoring with 16 points, followed by Kevin Martin with 15.
Kidd-Gilchrist will not play tonight, as he is sidelined with a shoulder injury and is out indefinitely.
Tonight's key matchup will be Rubio versus Walker. The two point guards have different styles, but they are both dangerous on any given night. Walker is currently averaging 17.2 points and 5.3 assists per game, while Rubio is more passing-oriented and is averaging 13 points and 9.0 assists per game. Rubio has also been an asset defensively, grabbing three steals in each of Minnesota's last four games.
Karl-Anthony Towns will be facing off against former Timberwolves center Jefferson, another great matchup to watch this evening. The big man is averaging lower numbers than we're accustomed to, but he's still putting up 15.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Towns tallied 17 points and 12 rebounds against the Hawks, and he also added his usual three blocks. The rookie has been a force on defense for Minnesota, and he only seems to get better with each game.
Offensively, the Wolves and Hornets are putting up similar numbers: Minnesota is averaging 101.8 points per game, while Charlotte is averaging 102. One thing Minnesota needs to work on is the number of fouls it commits. The Wolves are currently committing an average of 23.3 fouls per game. Towns is No. 6 in the NBA with 3.7 personal fouls per game.
The Wolves have thus far proven the better defensive team by a slight margin. They are holding their opponents to an average of 98.5 points per game, good enough for No. 9 in the league. Hopefully the team can keep Jefferson and Walker at bay tonight and hold the upper hand when the final buzzer sounds.