Wolves @ Hornets Gameday
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Wolves @ Hornets 7:00 PM - New Orleans Arena
Where to Watch: FS North
Where to Listen: 1130 AM
*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 1130 AM.
* Luke Ridnour (personal reasons) - OUT
* Martell Webster (back spasms) - OUT
* C Emeka Okafor (strained oblique) - OUT
* F Trevor Ariza (sprained right ankle) - DAY-TO-DAY
* F/C Jason Smith (flu-like symptoms) - DAY-TO-DAY
With a recent 10-game win streak, the Hornets proved that their hot start to the 2010-11 season was no fluke. Chris Paul’s All-Star play has propelled New Orleans to a 32-20 record and placed them directly into the Western Conference playoff mix. Unfortunately, the team will have to deal with key injuries to center Emeka Okafor, who expects to miss one or two more weeks and Trevor Ariza, who is suffering from a right sprained ankle. The lack of an inside defensive force has left the Hornets vulnerable in the paint, which allowed Pau Gasol to register 34 points in a Saturday night Lakers victory. New Orleans suffered its second straight loss on Saturday and will play its next five of eight games on the road.
The Wolves earned their most impressive victory of the season against the Hornets on December 27 at the Target Center. Michael Beasley posted 30 points as Minnesota topped New Orleans 113-98.
Last Time Out
Kobe Bryant and Gasol combined for 66 points and helped the Lakers bury the Hornets at home. Paul scored 21 points and dished out 15 assists in the 101-95 loss on Saturday.
Minnesota scored 38 points in the third quarter and even cut the deficit to two points in the fourth but could not overcome the Nuggets offensive firepower. The 113-100 defeat dropped the Wolves to 11-39 on the season heading into a three-game road trip.
The Numbers Game
Minnesota ranks sixth in the league in 3-point shooting by hitting 38 percent of its attempts. Last year, the Wolves were 23rd in the long ball category, only recording a 34.1 percentage.
Match-up to Watch
Wolves backcourt vs. Chris Paul
Paul earned his fourth All-Star selection after the fans voted him a starter for the Sunday night event. Suiting up in all 52 games this year, Paul has admirably returned from an injury shortened 2009-10 to average 16.7 points and 9.7 assists for a potential playoff squad. The fifth-year star is one of the best point guards in the league at dictating the pace of the game and consistently playing a major role in wins for his team. Paul can succeed in a fastbreak environment or in a halfcourt defensive battle. Without Luke Ridnour for the third straight game, Jonny Flynn will most likely receive the starting nod and Sebastain Telfair will look to provide a spark off the bench. Both players must account for Paul’s incredible ability to work off the pick-and-roll and penetrate the lane. Paul is also a handful on the defensive end of the floor as he averages 2.5 steals per game this season.
What to Look For
Facing the second best defensive team in the league, Minnesota hopes to find enough offensive weapons to defeat the Hornets for the second time this season. Beasley was huge in the first meeting and rookie Wes Johnson added a career-high 24 points off six 3-pointers. Tonight, Beasley should own an advantage at the small forward spot despite the ankle issues that have caused him noticeable discomfort in the previous two games. Kevin Love is searching for his 37th straight double-double, which would match Kevin Garnett's franchise record that was compiled over a two-year period.
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Jonah on Twitter.