Scouting Report: Wolves at Hornets

Wolves (25-31) at Hornets (14-41) - 7 PM New Orleans Arena
Where to Watch: No Local/NBA League Pass
Huberts Bar & Grill (Target Center location) viewing party begins at 6:30 PM
Where to Listen: 830 AM WCCO

Timberwolves Game Notes

*Get your questions on the radio airwaves during halftime! Just tweet questions to @WolvesRadio and listen to the halftime show hosted by John Focke on WCCO 830 AM.

With the Timberwolves now five games out of the playoffs with 10 games left to play and pressure to perform building, the Wolves take on conference-worst New Orleans tonight at 7 p.m. Tonight will be the decisive third meeting between the two this season, as Minnesota snatched an 87-80 win on Jan. 13 and New Orleans came back with a 95-89 victory on March 10.

Despite the Timberwolves having guard JJ Barea and center Nikola Pekovic back in the lineup Wednesday night against Golden State at Target Center, the Wolves couldn't keep it together in the second half as they watched a 20-point first-half lead deteriorate. Wolves forward Kevin Love had 29 points and pulled down 12 rebounds, and reserve guard Wayne Ellington added 17 points. The Warriors were led by forward David Lee with 31 points. It was Minnesota's fourth straight loss--tying their longest losing streak of the season.

The Hornets come off a 128-103 loss last night against the Spurs in San Antonio. Although Hornets guard Eric Gordon put up 31 points, his efforts were no match for a San Antonio team with six men scoring in double digits. The Spurs were led by Tim Duncan’s 19 points, with reserve guards Manu Ginobili and Patrick Mills adding 14 points apiece. Stephen Jackson and Gary Neal each finished with 13.

Gordon has played in two straight games for New Orleans. He’s missed all but four games this season with a right knee injury that required surgery in February, but the dynamic scorer changes the complexion of the Hornets’ squad when he’s on the floor. Gordon was the key piece New Orleans received from the Clippers in the Chris Paul trade, and he has not played in either of Minnesota’s matchups with the Hornets this year.

Last time out

The Wolves lost their last matchup with the Hornets 95-89 on March 10 at Target Center. The game was the Wolves' first without guard Ricky Rubio. The Wolves played a big game inside with forward Kevin Love scoring 31 points and pulling down 16 boards and center Nikola Pekovic finishing with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Guards Luke Ridnour and Wayne Ellington added 14 and 12 points respectively.

Despite the strong offensive play of their big men, the Wolves had a hard time containing Hornets center Chris Kaman, as he scored 20 points and added three blocked shots, two steals, four assists and six rebounds. Jarrett Jack added 17 points and seven assists.

Key matchup: Love vs. Kaman

Although Kaman is averaging 15 points and 7.2 rebounds per game over the Hornets’ last ten and managed 20 points in the last Wolves-Hornets matchup, he was held to two points in the first game of the series on Jan. 13 going 0-for-10 from the floor.

Meanwhile, Love is averaging 30.2 points and 13.2 rebounds per game over the last ten and has been an anchor for an ailing Timberwolves roster. Love is averaging 32.5 points and 15.5 rebounds in their two games against the Hornets this season.

Defensive woes

The Wolves held the Warriors to 39 first-half points Wednesday but allowed 38 points in the third quarter in their loss to Golden State. They allowed 22 points in the paint in the third quarter alone, a telling statistic that highlights the Wolves' lagging late-game defense.

"Everybody's tired at this point," said Love after Wednesday's game. "I think we just need to go back to our basics. It seems like the farther this season has gone the worse we have gotten on defense; it's supposed to go the other way."

Injury report

Wolves guard Luke Ridnour left the April 2 contest at Sacramento in the third quarter after suffering a sprained right ankle and did not return for the April 4 game against Golden State. With Rubio out for the season and Ridnour hurt, Barea got his first start for the Timberwolves against Golden State after having missed the six previous games due to a right thigh contusion. Barea scored 15 points and dished out eight assists in the losing effort against the Warriors.

Pekovic returned to the court in Sacramento on April 2 after missing eight of nine previous games due to bone spurs in his right ankle. He scored 17 points in 19 minutes against the Spurs and returned to the starting lineup April 4 against Golden State, scoring 10 points in 23 minutes.

Wolves forward Michael Beasley has missed the last five games with a sprained great toe on his left foot.

The Hornets are likely to be without point guard Jarrett Jack tonight, as he’s missed their last two games due to a right foot sprain. Jack is averaging 15.6 points per game for the Hornets and 6.3 assists.

Catch tonight’s game at Huberts

Although tonight’s Wolves vs. Hornets game is not on local television, fans can catch every minute of action at Huberts Bar & Grill inside Target Center. The game will be available via the NBA League Pass package. Saturday's event is the first of four upcoming viewing parties. The events are free and open to the public. Wolves mascot Crunch, along with the Timberwolves dancers, will be on hand at each event to give away exclusive Wolves prizes, including autographed team merchandise and tickets.

Other upcoming viewing parties include the Nuggets game on April 11 (Champps American Restaurant – Eden Prairie), the Pacers game on April 16 (Buffalo Wild Wings – Roseville) and the Pistons game on April 19 (Bar 508 Restaurant – Downtown Minneapolis).

You can become a part of the Wolves Radio Network by Howling at the Wolves during halftime! Just tweet questions to @WolvesRadio or @JWFocke and Studio Host John Focke and Coach Steve Brown will answer them on 830 WCCO and the Wolves Radio Network.
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.