Timberwolves look to end skid when they visit Hornets
The Charlotte Hornets are hoping to continue surging against the floundering Minnesota Timberwolves when the two teams square off Saturday at Charlotte's Spectrum Center.
After a four-game losing streak ended a week ago, the Hornets have won three of their last four games to boost their record to 11-8. Charlotte is in the midst of a stretch in which it plays five of six games at home -- and seemed to have found some flash from 7-2 center Roy Hibbert in a 97-87 victory over Dallas on Thursday.
Hibbert hit 5-of-7 attempts for 11 points against the Mavericks with four rebounds and two blocks in 17 minutes. He missed five games at the start of the season for right knee soreness, but Hornets coach Steve Clifford called his performance against Dallas one of his top two outings of the season.
"I'm not 100 percent yet, but I'm getting there," Hibbert told reporters after the Dallas victory. "It's come slower than I would have liked, but it's a long season."
While Hibbert continues to work out kinks, the Hornets have continued to rely most upon Kemba Walker. The point guard hit two 3-pointers in the final four minutes to help seal the triumph over the Mavericks.
Walker leads Charlotte with 23.9 points per game, and his average of 24.4 points per game in November set a franchise record for that month.
Forward Marvin Williams has missed the last four games with a hyperextended left knee, and is expected to be out until next week, Clifford said.
The Timberwolves, meanwhile, are hoping to bounce back from back-to-back losses to the New York Knicks. In all, Minnesota has lost its last four games, and seven of the last eight games. They dropped to 5-14 with Friday's loss.
Zach LaVine led the Wolves with 23 points in their 118-114 loss to the Knicks. Karl-Anthony Towns added 20 points while Andrew Wiggins chipped in 19.
"The thing about them is they have so many talented scorers who can have big nights," Hornets center Cody Zeller said. "We have to come out and play defense right from the start and not really let them get into a flow."
Minnesota will be trying to snap its losing streak on the second night of a back-to-back. The Timberwolves are 2-1 in such games this season.
A hopeful spot of late was Towns' performance Wednesday in a 106-104 loss to the Knicks. The 7-foot center had 47 points and 18 rebounds in the loss, numbers that set historic marks.
Since 1963-64, only three players have scored 47 points or more at a younger age than the 21-year-old Towns -- Brandon Jennings, LeBron James and Kevin Durant. He also joined Kevin Garnett and Kevin Love as the only other Wolves to have a game with at last 45 points and 15 rebounds.
"It was a monster game," Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters. "It's unfortunate that we couldn't pull out the win."