Hornets Closing Out Pre-All-Star Break Schedule in Minnesota

by Sam Perley

Just one game remains for the Charlotte Hornets before the NBA All-Star Break as they face the recently overhauled Minnesota Timberwolves beginning tonight at 8 PM EST at Target Center.

The Hornets began their two-game road trip with a much-needed 87-76 win over the Pistons on Monday evening. Miles Bridges (18 points), Malik Monk (17 points) and Devonte’ Graham (14 points and 11 assists) all had strong individual shows in the outing, but ultimately it was the defense that sealed the victory for the purple and teal.

“We have to keep being physical,” said Graham on Tuesday in Minneapolis. “I feel like everybody was talking with each other, helping each other, coming over and taking charges, getting deflections. We just have to rebound better and we’ll be better off on defense. [Minnesota] brought in some good pieces, some young guys to put around the guys they already had. I saw their game the other day and they played well together.”

Charlotte lost at home to Minnesota, 121-99, back on Oct. 25, getting 24 points off the bench from Graham and points-rebounds double-doubles from both Terry Rozier and PJ Washington. Karl-Anthony Towns led the Timberwolves with 37 points, 15 rebounds, eight assists, four steals and two blocks, helping the visitors compile a 45-point third quarter in the process, which was ultimately the turning point of the contest.

This will be much different-looking Minnesota team this time around though after the organization added nine new players at the trade deadline, most notably D’Angelo Russell in a swap with Golden State for Andrew Wiggins. Russell had 23 points, five assists and six turnovers in his debut on Monday in Toronto, Towns is averaging 26.4 PPG over his past 12 outings and newcomer Malik Beasley has put up 19.0 PPG while shooting 47.4% from distance in two appearances.

With so much recent turnover, Minnesota is still figuring out its identity, but has glaringly drained a staggering 44-of-84 three-point attempts over the past two outings (52.4%). The Hornets did a great job of running the Pistons off the line in Detroit (7-of-35) and will have to do so again if they want back-to-back wins heading into the All-Star Break.

Game Notes: Timberwolves F Jake Layman (left toe sprain) has not played since Nov. 18. G Evan Turner and F Omari Spellman are currently not with the team following trades… Charlotte has dropped its last two regular season outings in Minnesota.

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