Shootaround Access: Wolves at Hornets
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The New Orleans Hornets have struggled through their own injuries this season, particularly having gone without shooting guard Eric Gordon for almost two months to start the campaign and playing without prized first overall pick Anthony Davis for a large stretch as well.
But the Hornets have finally gotten healthy for the first time in 2012-13, and as a result they’re a much different looking team than they were when the Timberwolves last saw them on Dec. 14. That game resulted in a 113-102 Minnesota victory and continued New Orleans on a losing skid that would eventually hit 11 games.
When the Wolves and Hornets meet tonight, Minnesota will be facing a squad that has its starting lineup back intact and has won three straight and seven of 10 since that 11-game losing streak.
“This is a different team with Gordon back and obviously Davis is healthy,” coach Terry Porter said. “Before, they were struggling to make plays. Now they have an offensive punch.”
Porter will remain as the Wolves’ acting head coach tonight for the third straight game as Rick Adelman remains with his wife in the hospital. It is still unsure if he will be joining the team in San Antonio this weekend.
Also missing from shootaround today was guard JJ Barea, who will not play because of back spasms that kept him out of the Oklahoma City game on Wednesday. Barea traveled to Dallas to see a doctor for his back, and he could join the team again in San Antonio.
Forward Lazar Hayward also missed shootaround today due to illness, and he is questionable for tonight. If he’s not able to go, the Wolves would be down to nine healthy players for tonight’s game.
That might not bode well for trying to hang with a sharpshooting Hornets squad that features Gordon in the first unit and 3-point threats Ryan Anderson and Austin Rivers off the bench. Rivers shot 5-of-6 from 3-point range on Dec. 14 and scored 27 points, while Anderson hit four 3-pointers and finished with 20 points.
“They’re trying to play more up-tempo, speed up the pace of play and really try to aggressively attack the rim,” Porter said. “And they’ve got some very good 3-point shooters. We’ve got to do a good job of finding the 3-point shooters in transition in the half court, know who they are and run those guys off.”
Rubio coming off back-to-backs
Guard Ricky Rubio played in his first games on consecutive nights on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Hawks and Thunder, and after a rest day on Thursday he said he is feeling no negative effects on his surgically repaired knee.
“I think I felt normal,” he said. “Like tired from a back to back but nothing at all on the knee, so that’s a good sign. I felt tired and legs are tired, but nothing different from a back-to-back when you’re healthy.”
Porter said he hadn’t talked with the training staff about Rubio’s playing time tonight, but he said it will likely be similar to recent games.
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com.