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Game Preview #50: Wolves at Pelicans

The Timberwolves look to bounce back after one of their worst losses of the season when they wrap up a two-game road trip Wednesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Minnesota Timberwolves v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Game Info

What to Watch for

Second Battle Against Pelicans

Wednesday’s game is the second of three matchups between Minnesota and New Orleans this season, with the first game coming on the road in New Orleans on Dec. 28, resulting in the Pelicans winning 119-118 to take a 1-0 series lead. The third and final game of the year will take place in the season finale on April 9 in Minneapolis.

For how the two sides match up entering Monday, the Wolves and Pelicans come in as two top 15 offenses in the NBA. Minnesota ranks 11th in points per game (115.3), fourth in shooting percentage (49.2%) and 12th in assists (25.2). New Orleans comes in tied for ninth in the NBA with 115.6 points per game while ranking 10th in field goal percentage (47.9%) and ninth in assists (25.9).

Minnesota Timberwolves v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Defensively, both teams are fairly evenly matched on that side of the floor as well. Entering Wednesday, the Wolves are tied for 13th in the NBA with a defensive rating of 113.2, raking fourth in steals (8.4) and tied for fourth in blocks (5.4) per game. The Pelicans come in with a defensive rating of 111.3 (seventh in NBA) while averaging 8.6 steals which is the second-best in the league.

For how the teams have performed as of late, the Wolves have lost three of their last five including two straight road games, while the Pelicans enter on a five-game losing streak with a record of 2-8 over their last 10 contests.

Some Stars Out, Some Returning

Both teams will be without star players in Wednesday’s game, with one star returning to the court.

For Minnesota, it is still going to be without Karl-Anthony Towns (calf), Jordan McLaughlin (calf) and Taurean Prince (ankle) in the game, with Rudy Gobert still working through some groin soreness while listed as questionable.

On New Orleans’ side, Zion Williamson, who killed the Wolves in the first matchup of the year, remains out with a hamstring injury. However, the Pelicans are getting the welcomed return of Brandon Ingram (toe) in Wednesday’s game, taking part in his first action in two months. That addition will be key to watch during the contest as well as the other injury concerns for both teams.

What Happened in the First Contest?

Minnesota and New Orleans met for the first and only time of the season back on Dec. 28 at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, resulting in a 119-118 victory by the Pelicans.

In that game, the Wolves held an advantage for the first half while carrying a 55-49 advantage into halftime. New Orleans pulled away in the second half and late in the fourth quarter, escaping with a one-point win behind a career night from Zion Williamson.

Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell led the way for Minnesota, each finishing with 27 points while Edwards added six rebounds to his team-high-tying point total. Jaden McDaniels notched 19 points and seven rebounds, Rudy Gobert had a near double-double of 10 points, eight rebounds and four blocks, and Naz Reid pitched in with 13 points and six rebounds off the bench.

For the Pelicans, Williamson posted a career-high 43 points on 67 percent shooting from the field, adding five assists and three rebounds. Trey Murphy finished with 21 points, CJ McCollum tallied 20 points and six assists, and Jonas Valanciunas added a double-double of 12 points and 11 boards.

Minnesota shot well from the field despite falling in the game, shooting 50.6% from the field along with 10 threes. On the other side, New Orleans shot 48.1% but held an advantage from deep with 11 threes.

Finish Road Trip Off on a High Note

In Wednesday’s game, Minnesota will attempt to wrap up its short two-game road trip on a high note after suffering arguably the worst loss of the season on Monday in Houston.

On the road this season, the Wolves have struggled with a record of 8-15 overall, including falling in eight of the last 10 road games dating back to mid-December. On the other side of the court, the Pelicans enter Wednesday with a record of 17-7 at home but have lost three straight home contests.

Regardless of the outcome Wednesday night, Minnesota returns home for a welcomed six-game homestand spanning from Friday to Feb. 5. Since the start of January, the Wolves are 7-1 at Target Center, aiming to continue that trend before the All-Star break nears. But before that begins, the Wolves need to bounce back and take care of business in Wednesday’s road game in New Orleans.

Injury Report

Minnesota Timberwolves


  • Rudy Gobert — Right Groin Soreness


  • Jordan McLaughlin — Left Calf Sprain
  • Josh Minott — G League
  • Taurean Prince — Left Angle Sprain
  • Karl-Anthony Towns — Right Calf Strain

New Orleans


  • Brandon Ingram — Toe Contusion
  • Naji Mashall — Toe Soreness


  • Dyson Daniels — Right Ankle Sprain
  • Kira Lewis Jr. — G League
  • EJ Liddell — Right Knee
  • Dereon Seabron — G League
  • Zion Williamson — Hamstring