Timberwolves-Hornets Preview

Despite Kevin Love’s issues with the Minnesota Timberwolves as a

franchise, the team has played well of late.

Not even the return of New Orleans’ prized rookie has helped the

Hornets end their latest slide.

The visiting Timberwolves look to match a season high with a

third straight victory and hand the Hornets a sixth consecutive

defeat Friday night.

Hours before Minnesota (10-9) beat Denver 108-105 on Wednesday

for its fifth win in seven games, Love tried to clarify his

comments from a recent Internet story in which he questioned

decisions made by team president David Kahn. Though Love stood by

what he said about Kahn’s building of the team and his complaint of

getting a four-year deal instead of the maximum five-year contract

extension last January, he remains happy with the team’s


Minnesota has averaged 97.9 points over the last seven games

after averaging 91.8 in losing each of its previous five.

“I’m not going to fall back and say I didn’t mean the things

that I said,” Love said prior to Wednesday’s victory. “I do

believe this is the closest-knit team that we have, the coaching

staff has been great and we have a chance to make something very

special this year and for years to come.”

Love was jeered by some Minnesota fans, and not entirely because

he shot 3 of 17 and had eight points to go with 14 rebounds against

the Nuggets. It was the worst shooting performance when attempting

at least eight shots in his career.

“If we can win and I can have a game like that, I’m not going to

be mad,” said Love, averaging 19.9 points and 14.2 boards in 10

games since missing the first nine with a broken hand. “I was very


With Love struggling, Nikola Pekovic had 22 points with 11

rebounds while Andrei Kirilenko scored 18 and J.J. Barea added 17,

eight assists and five rebounds as Minnesota set a season high for


“It was a team win,” Barea told the Timberwolves’ official

website. “Our star Kevin struggled a little bit, but everyone else

stepped up. That’s when a team becomes good.”

The Timberwolves have not played all that well lately against

the Hornets, averaging 86.8 points and shooting 39.2 percent in

losing two straight and three of four. Love, however, has averaged

30.0 points and 14.7 boards in the last three at New Orleans.

If the Hornets’ success versus Minnesota is to continue they

must snap a five-game skid in which they’ve averaged 84.8 points

and shot 41.1 percent. Though New Orleans (5-16) has had No. 1

overall pick Anthony Davis back for the last two contests after an

11-game absence due to a sore ankle, the results have been the


Brian Roberts scored 16 points off the bench while Davis added

11 in Wednesday’s 92-88 loss at Oklahoma City. The Hornets led by

11 late in the third quarter before the Thunder used a 16-2 run to

ultimately control the contest.

“I thought we competed,” New Orleans coach Monty Williams said.

“I thought we brought an edge. Obviously we lost the game, but when

we compete that way you give yourselves a chance.”

The Hornets will try to avoid matching their season high with a

fourth consecutive home loss Friday.

The Timberwolves learned Friday that guard Malcolm Lee, a

starter for 12 of the last 13 games, will be out indefinitely with

an injury to his right knee.