Preview: Wolves vs. Hornets
The Minnesota Timberwolves only had five wins after playing 36 games last season. Earning their first home victory will get them there just seven contests into this one.
Andrew Wiggins seeks another big offensive performance to help the Timberwolves avoid their longest home skid in almost seven years Tuesday night against the Charlotte Hornets.
Minnesota finished with the NBA’s worst record (16-66) in 2014-15 and missed the playoffs for the 11th straight year, but a young core built around Wiggins has helped the club get off to a 4-2 start this season.
The Timberwolves can match their longest win streak from last season – a three-game run Feb. 4-8 – but that will require ending a lengthy slump at home.
After dropping their final eight at Target Center in ’14-15, they’re trying to avoid losing 11 straight in Minneapolis for the first time since Jan. 28-March 9, 2009.
That skid marked their longest at home in a single season. Minnesota’s worst overall losing streak was a 14-game victory drought that bridged two seasons from 1994-95.
The Wolves return home – where they’re 0-2 – after blowing a 34-point lead Monday before surging late in a 117-107 victory that ended Atlanta’s seven-game win streak.
Wiggins matched his career high with 33 points while hitting 15 of 22 from the floor two days after scoring 31 in a 102-93 overtime victory at Chicago. It marks the first time in his two-year career that he’s had consecutive 30-point games.
"I was feeling it," he said. "My shot was falling. My teammates kept encouraging me, giving me the ball."
The Hawks never led until going up 107-106 with 3:26 remaining, but Wiggins scored the next seven points to help Minnesota avoid what would have been the franchise’s biggest blown lead in a loss. The Wolves led by 29 before falling to Dallas on Dec. 30, 2008.
"Any team down is going to come back fighting," Wiggins said. "We knew that."
Wiggins will try to stay hot on his home court after totaling 28 points and shooting 10 for 35 in his first two games there.
Karl-Anthony Towns has also struggled at home with 17 points on 8-of-22 shooting and nine rebounds.
The rookie center has matched that scoring production in each of the last two games while also totaling 25 boards.
Minnesota has dropped three straight and five of six to Charlotte (2-4), which is kicking off a busy stretch with the finale of this three-game trip.
The Hornets are also trying to bounce back from their worst defensive showing of the season in a 114-94 loss at San Antonio on Saturday.
They gave up season highs in points and shooting percentage (55.6).
"We got seven games in 11 days, very little time to practice," coach Steve Clifford said. "We’ve really worked on a lot of individual and just basic team defense things that have slipped because we haven’t had a lot of practice time.
"If we’re going to get our defense going, it’s going to start with some basic stuff."
Kemba Walker has finally started to get going offensively, scoring a season-high 27 points against the Spurs after averaging 15.2 over the first five games.
He’s scored 18.5 per game while Charlotte has split its last four visits to Minnesota.
Al Jefferson is averaging 17.0 points and 9.3 rebounds in his last four games there.