For those of you who had the 'pleasure' of reading our gameday preview, you knew that I had said I didn't care if we won or lost, so long as the team showed some semblance of a squad--capable of defending!
Although the Hornets had a solid shooting night, the Wolves still didn't put forth the kind of defensive effort needed to win at an NBA level. As such they move to 25-32 on the year and they gave the Hornets their first season series win versus a Western Conference opponent and New Orleans' 15th win on the year.
A big part of tonight's defensive collapse was the Hornets' frontcourt offensive onslaught. New Orleans' starting frontcourt of Jason Smith and Chris Kaman were the reason for the Hornets' win tonight. They combined for a total of 47pts, 20reb, 4ast, 4stls, 4blks, 81% FG (21-26), 100% FT (5-5).
For the majority of the night, Kevin Love covered both Smith & Kaman. For as great as Kevin Love is on the offensive end--he's been atrocious these past few weeks on the defensive end. Sure, it's great he's learned to shoot the three and score inside and has become a superstar, but until he commits to becoming a better defender, he isn't 'elite' in my book (who cares about 'my book' though?).
Sure, Ricky Rubio was a good defender and ever since he's gone down with the torn ACL & LCL the TWolves' defense has dropped to a point where it's seemingly non-existent! They allowed the second-worst offensive team in the NBA to score 99 points and a frontcourt that starts Jason Smith to absolutely dominate tonight.
Before the game, Kevin Love and the team acknowledged that they needed to commit to continuing to try and win games and still be competitive whether the playoffs are out of the question or not (which at this point they most certainly are). Tonight was not a prime example of that.
Minnesota still has not won a game in April since the 2009 season as the April record now stretches to 21 losses in a row.
The Hornets were without starting point guard Jarett Jack and center Emeka Okafor, both out with injuries. However Greivis Vasquez & Chris Kaman filled in, in those roles, just fine! Eric Gordon played the first 3:13 before having to come out because of a back injury, he returned in the second half and played 24 total minutes on the night.
Let's take a look at tonight's key performers for each team...
HOT: The New Orleans Hornets' starting frontcourt. I've talked plenty about this: 47pts on 81% shooting. The stats speak for themselves.
NOT: The Minnesota Timberwolves' defense. I've talked a lot about this as well, no sense in beating a dead horse....er....Timberwolf, for that matter!
MISC.: This was Jason Smith's 3rd career double-double, he also set career-highs in points (26) and field goals made (12), while also tying career-highs in rebounds (10) and steals (3).....This was Eric Gordon's 5th game of the season and his lowest scoring output as a Hornet (previously 15)......
KEY STATS: The Hornets' key to this one was 1.) their dominance on the boards--posting a +15 and shot 49% from the field, beyond those advantages this one doesn't seem like it should have been a Hornets victory. The hot shooting of their frontcourt got them this victory had Minnesota been able to stop one of those guys (Smith or Kaman) we'd have gotten our 26th W. Looking, the Wolves got more points from their bench, in the paint, had less turnovers leading to less Hornets points (while forcing NOH into 14 TO's leading to 15 points).
UP NEXT: Monday, April 9th vs. the Phoenix Suns at the Target Center, tipoff 8pmCT
Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!