Timberwolves vs. Hornets preview
The Minnesota Timberwolves still find themselves in the Western Conference basement, but they’re starting to show signs of life with Andrew Wiggins leading the way.
Wiggins tries to build on his best performance of the season as the Timberwolves visit the surging Charlotte Hornets, who could again be without their top two scorers Monday.
Wiggins is averaging 15.2 points to lead all rookies and he’s averaged 21.4 and 50.5 percent shooting in his last 13 games. He scored 31 points to go with nine rebounds and a season-high three blocks in Saturday’s 113-105 win at Denver.
"How much he’s improved in a month is almost astonishing," coach Flip Saunders said. "He continues to get better and amaze, do everything. . . . He’s probably ahead of what anyone anticipated what he would be."
Thaddeus Young scored 22 while Robbie Hummel added career highs of 15 points and 13 boards. The Timberwolves have won two of three after a season-worst 15-game losing streak.
They shot 53.8 percent for their second-highest mark this season while holding the Nuggets to 41.3 percent.
"We got the win, played hard, executed down the stretch," said Wiggins, who shot 11 of 17 and 4 of 5 from 3-point range. "Nothing feels better than that."
The Hornets (16-25) were also in high spirits after getting by Indiana 80-71 in overtime Saturday, their sixth win in seven games. Gerald Henderson led the way with 20 points and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds in a matchup that featured the fewest points in an OT game in the shot-clock era.
The Hornets shot 30.7 percent for their lowest mark in a win in team history.
"If we can play an NBA game and shoot that low of a percentage but still come out and find a way to win, it just says a lot about the resiliency we have," Henderson said.
Charlotte has held opponents to an average of 89.3 points in its last seven games, significantly lower than its season mark of 98.2. The Hornets may need to rely on their defense again with Al Jefferson (groin) still out and Kemba Walker dealing with a knee injury.
Walker had averaged 29.8 points in his previous six games before sitting out against the Pacers. He’s listed as doubtful for this game.
"It is one of those things (where) it’s the ultimate day-to-day," coach Steve Clifford said. "It’s something that he’d had for a while. From what I understand, he can come in and be fine or it could be longer. I don’t think there is any real way to determine that."
Minnesota will again have to get by without Ricky Rubio and Shabazz Muhammad. Nikola Pekovic is also likely to remain out, but Kevin Martin has a chance to suit up for the first time since fracturing his wrist Nov. 19.
The Timberwolves and Hornets split two matchups last season, with each team winning at home. Minnesota has dropped six of its last seven and 19 of 23 all-time visits to Charlotte.