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Hornets Road Trip, First-Half Schedule Closing Out in Minnesota

by Sam Perley

  • Charlotte Hornets (16-18) at Minnesota Timberwolves (7-28) 
  • Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 8 PM EST (Target Center)
  • Fox Sports Southeast, FOX Sports GO App and WFNZ 610 AM or 102.5 FM
  • Last time out: Hornets won, 120-114 on Feb. 12, 2021 in Charlotte 

Season-Long Road Trip Finally Coming to an End for Hornets

A long six-game trek ends tonight for the Hornets as they head into Minneapolis having been without three starters in each of their last two outings. Charlotte pulled out a dramatic last-minute comeback win in Sacramento on Sunday evening, although was clearly running on fumes towards the end of the third quarter one night later in Portland with just nine available players for the second outing in a row. Getting even just one of Gordon Hayward, Cody Zeller or Devonte’ Graham back from injury would be a huge boost to an exhausted rotation.  

Minnesota Now Operating Under Recently-Hired New Head Coach

The Timberwolves have a new Head Coach at the helm after the organization replaced Ryan Saunders with former Toronto Raptors assistant Chris Finch back on Feb. 22. Minnesota is still searching for its first win under Finch though, as the team is 0-4 (average margin of defeat: 17 points) and owns the NBA’s third-lowest net rating since his hiring (-15.0). To make matters worse, the squad’s second-leading scorer Malik Beasley – who had a season-high 31 points in Charlotte last month – just started a 12-game suspension, which has only contributed to the uphill climb as of late. 

Attack, Attack and Attack the Basket Some More

Charlotte averaged just under 27 free-throw attempts per game on 84% shooting over its opening four outings of the road trip before going just 10-of-17 from the charity stripe in Monday’s loss to Portland. Minnesota enters this contest with the NBA’s 24th-ranked defense (113.2), while also committing the third-most personal fouls (21.9) and allowing the fourth-most opposing free-throw attempts per game (24.9). Driving to the hoop and generating easy scoring opportunities would greatly help the Hornets’ efforts to sweep this season series.  

Preview Quote

“The number one thing is to keep these guys fresh and healthy. We have a very young team that’s going to be put through the grinder right here, but we’ll be okay. It’s my job to manage them. We have enough bodies to get us through. One day at a time and we’ll manage it accordingly. We have some guys that are down, but when we get fully healthy, we need everybody to bust it for the minutes that they’ve earned.” – Hornets Head Coach James Borrego 

Final Thoughts 

Much like the rest of the league dealing with an abnormally condensed schedule this year, the Hornets certainly need a physical and mental recharge that surely awaits with the incoming All-Star Break. Considering the circumstances, closing out this tough road trip with a victory over a hungry Timberwolves team plus a .500 record on the journey would be the perfect way to head into the time off. 

Additional Notes

G Malik Beasley (league suspension) and G D’Angelo Russell (left knee surgery) are both out for Minnesota… The Hornets have won three of the last four head-to-head meetings with the Timberwolves, all of which have come by seven-or-fewer points… Coincidentally, Charlotte’s final outing of the pre-All-Star Break schedule in the 2019-20 season was also a road game in Minnesota (won 115-108). 

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