Sam Mitchell didn't know that he would be without Andrew Wiggins (sore right knee) and Ricky Rubio (sore left knee), until a few minutes before tipoff. Add to that, Kevin Garnett (rest) and Nikola Pekovic (achilles) and the Wolves had a tough go vs. the Hornets which led to another home loss.
The Timberwolves started Zach LaVine, Kevin Martin, Tayshaun Prince, Adreian Payne, and Karl-Anthony Towns. It was the first change in the starting lineup after beginning the season starting the same unit (Rubio, Wiggins, Prince, Garnett, Towns) for the first six games.
The Wolves were able to jump out to an 11-point lead thanks to some great play from LaVine, Towns, and Payne, however the Timberwolves fell apart when they had to turn to the bench (depleted because second unit players had to start).
The Hornets got back into the game by getting to the free throw line. The Hornets went 14-for-17 from the line in the first quarter alone.
A bench unit led by Jeremy Lamb and Jeremy Lin created all kinds of headaches for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Lin finished the night with 19 points, 1 rebound, and 3 assists in 26 minutes off the bench. Lamb chipped in 18 points (12 of which came in the second quarter alone), 4 rebounds and 1 steal in 23 minutes off the bench.
It was the bench unit for the Hornets that put them over the top in this one. The Timberwolves were outscored 23-57 in bench scoring, which was a big difference maker down the stretch.
The Timberwolves also committed 22 turnovers which led to 22 Hornet points. The Wolves did however hold an advantage in one category that they have struggled with this season, rebounding--out-rebounding the Hornets 48-34 on the night.
The Hornets went on a 9-0 between the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth quarter and they held onto the lead for the W.
There were bright spots in the game for the Wolves. Karl-Anthony Towns gave for Wolf Al Jefferson fits all night. Big Al started the game 0-for-6 from the field and 2 of Al's 3 made field goals came with Towns on the bench. Big Al finished with just 9 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block in 26 minutes.
Towns had another impressive outing with 19 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 3 blocks. Zach LaVine led the Wolves with 20 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists, and 2 steals as the team's starting point guard. He did commit 8 turnovers on the night. Another 6 turnovers came from Kevin Martin who played a game-high 40 minutes and finished with 18 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 steal as the starting shooting guard. Payne started for Garnett and had 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal; and Bjelica stayed in his sixth man role and finished with 13 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 block in 28 minutes.
This contest also marked the NBA debut of Tyus Jones who finished with 1 point, and 1 rebound in 11 minutes off the bench. He missed all four of his field goal attempts.
The Wolves move to 0-3 at home, and 4-3 on the year. Next up is Golden State on Thursday. That game will tip at 7pmCT from the Target Center and will be televised nationally on TNT.
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!