Wolves vs. Hornets Gameday





Jonah Ballow
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Wolves vs. Hornets 7:00 PM - Target Center
Where to Watch: FS North
Where to Listen: 1130 KFAN 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.

Notable Injuries:
Wolves:
* Nikola Pekovic (ankle) - DAY-TO-DAY
* Anthony Tolliver (knee) - OUT

Scouting Report:
Big Picture
A shocking 8-0 Hornets start to the 2010-11 season seemed to quell all the Chris Paul trade rumors for the short term. Fast forward to December 27, the team owns a .500 record over the last 10 games, which has taken a back seat to the recent news of the NBA purchasing the franchise from majority owner George Shinn and minority owner Gary Chouest. While the league searches for an ideal candidate that would keep the Hornets in New Orleans, the squad on the floor looks to achieve success in a loaded Southwest Division. An overall 18-12 record for the Hornets is impressive, considering a rookie head coach, a significant roster shift, and their star point guard returning from an injury riddled 2009 season. Starting with a contest against Atlanta on Sunday, New Orleans will play five games in six days, including a horrifying Los Angeles / Boston back-to-back before the New Year.

Last Time Out
Four of the five Hornets starters tallied double-digit points in a 93-86 victory over the Hawks last night. Paul posted 22 points on 10-for-17 shooting from floor and eight assists.

As the Wolves faced a two-point deficit, Michael Beasley drove directly to the paint for a game-winning right-handed layup. Beasley's bucket handed Minnesota a 98-97 win and only its second road victory of the season.

The Numbers Game
According Elias Sports Bureau, The Wolves shot 90 percent or better from the foul line in a one-point win for only the third time in team history. Minnesota connected on 20 of 22 behind the charity stripe on Sunday night. Meanwhile, the Wolves improved to 2-0 while wearing the new alternate black uniforms.

Match-up to Watch
Wolves Backcourt vs. Chris Paul
Yes, David West leads the Hornets in points per game and center Emeka Okafor is enjoying a solid season. However, Paul is the straw that stirs the drink for New Orleans. The All-Star point guard is arguably the best in the league at his position with an unbelievable way of dominating the game and dictating the pace. Paul will penetrate the lane to find open teammates on his left or right while shooters spot up in the corners for potential 3-point opportunities. The onus is on the Wolves backcourt to limit Paul's overall impact on the game tonight by trapping and not allowing him to see open driving lanes in the paint. Jonny Flynn will be an important asset off the bench, utilizing his quickness and strength against Paul.

What to Look For
The last time Minnesota captured a road win in early November, the team returned to Target Center and earned a spectacular victory over New York. All signs are pointing to a Wolves squad becoming healthy at all the necessary positions. Flynn and Martell Webster are solid contributors off the bench, solidifying Minnesota's second unit. Tonight will present a challenge due to the Hornets firepower with Paul, West, Okafor, and not mention Trevor Ariza. New Orleans is also an elite defensive team in 2010-11 as it ranks No. 3 in points allowed per game. Individually the Hornets own some of the best defenders in the NBA and now the collective unit holds opponents to just 43.9 percent shooting from the floor.
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Jonah on Twitter.