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Hornets 133, Wolves 115: Winning Streak Buzzted in Charlotte

Minnesota’s defense lets them down in Charlotte

Minnesota Timberwolves v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

While there’s problem some truth to the idea that Charlotte’s explosion from behind the three-point line is strongly correlated with Patrick Beverley’s absence, this was also just a letdown spot for Minnesota. Coming off of the Thanksgiving holiday and what was clearly an emotional win against Miami on Wednesday, this contest in Buzz City had letdown written all over it.

On the floor, Minnesota’s previously fourth-ranked defense did not show up tonight, and it felt like the beginning of some regression to the mean for their three-point defense. Minnesota came into the game holding opponents to a league best 30.1% from three, but Charlotte poured in 23 for 40 from three tonight, good for 57.5%. The 23 made threes by Charlotte is a record for most made threes in a game against Minnesota.

Speficially, Kelly Oubre was adamant about that regression. The Kansas Jayhawk scored an uber-efficient 27 points on a piping hot 7 for 13 from three. He absolutely torched the Wolves all night, and practically ended the game himself a few different times.

While I do think there’s a lot to the regression idea, it would be disingenuous to let the Wolves off the hook that easy. They did not match Charlotte’s energy basically from the jump. The Hornets, led by LaMelo Ball, pushed the pace at every opportunity, and took advantage of a Wolves team that looked slow and sluggish to get back on defense. In particular, it didn’t feel like Anthony Edwards showed up tonight. We know he’s going to be there for the big games and big moments, but this team needs him every single night. I love Ant, but if you want to be talked about like a star, you also get the expectations of a star.

The Wolves were slow and did not seem to communicate well at all on defense, and that communication piece is probably where they missed Beverley’s presence the most. He changes the game with his leadership on the floor, and they sorely missed him in that respect.

As a fan of the NBA in general, it’s impossible not to love the way Charlotte plays. They push the pace until it gets borderline frenetic, and that starts with Ball. He is always looking for the hit-ahead pass to ignite a possession for an easy score. He didn’t make as much of an impact with his scoring as he does on some occasions, but you feel his presence on ever possession because of his willingness to throw the ball ahead to the open man. They’re a fun team that I’m excited to follow on League Pass for the rest of the season.

So, yeah, it was a bummer that the Wolves’ winning streak ended at five games, but the bright side is they have another opportunity to go get a win tomorrow night in Philadelphia against a short-handed 76ers team. They need to play much better than they did tonight to win that one, but tomorrow is a new day, and with that comes another opportunity.