Minnesota has looked unbeatable at home, winning its last eight games at the Target Center, including a 83-77 victory over Miami on Saturday night. The
Timberwolves power forward Kevin Garnett had 28 points and 17 rebounds in the hard-fought win.
“It was a tough game,” Minnesota center Mark Madsen said. “Like (general manager) Kevin McHale says, ‘Every night is not a Mona Lisa.”’
Sam Cassell added 18 points for the Timberwolves, who have won 15 of their last 18.
New Orleans will hope for a better effort as it returns home after a disappointing 89-84 loss in Chicago. The Hornets allowed the lowly Bulls to build a 22-point, third quarter lead, which proved too much to overcome.
“I just don’t think we came out with the fire and passion it takes to win in this league,” said Hornets point guard Baron Davis, who had 14 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter.
The loss was the Hornets’ third in the last four games.
“If we played with half the effort we did in the second half we win this maybe by 20,” Hornets guard David Wesley said. “It’s too hard to come back in this league when you’re down 20, especially in one quarter.”
Minnesota will visit defending NBA champion San Antonio and Houston before heading home again.
STANDINGS (through Jan. 11): Timberwolves - 2nd place, 1 GB, Midwest Division. Hornets - 3rd place, 5 GB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Timberwolves - Garnett, 24.7 ppg and 14.2 rpg; Cassell, 7.5 apg. Hornets - Davis, 24 ppg and 8.2 apg; Brown, 9.5 rpg.
2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.
LAST MEETING: Feb. 14, 2003; Timberwolves, 114-93. At Minnesota, Troy Hudson hit four 3-pointers in the first quarter and finished with 22 points to lead Minnesota over New Orleans. Wesley scored 21 points for the Hornets, including 15 in the first quarter on 7-of-10 shooting.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Timberwolves - 12-6 on the road; Hornets - 11-5 at home.