Hornets-Timberwolves Preview


The Minnesota Timberwolves haven't earned too many wins over the past couple of months but they recorded a lopsided victory during a visit from the New Orleans Hornets in February.

The Timberwolves will try to prevail again in the rematch between the two struggling clubs Sunday night at the Target Center.

Minnesota (22-41) is 6-26 since Jan. 9 but hardly looked like a lowly club when facing New Orleans (22-44) on Feb. 2. The Timberwolves led by 19 after one quarter and 27 at halftime en route to a 115-86 victory.

Minnesota, though, enters this game against New Orleans even more injury plagued. Kevin Love and Chase Budinger were among those that missed the previous matchup but Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic have also had extended absences lately.

Kirilenko and Pekovic were among the five Timberwolves in double figures in last month's victory, and Dante Cunningham had a team-best 18 points on a franchise-best 9-of-9 shooting. Pekovic, who has a strained abdominal, has averaged a team-best 21.0 points in this season's three matchups with the Hornets and had a career-high 31 in a 113-102 victory in New Orleans on Dec. 14.

Despite being short-handed, the Timberwolves led by 20 points early in the third quarter Friday in Houston but went on to lose 108-100. Derrick Williams scored 19 points to extend his career-best streak of consecutive double-digit performances to 11 games, and J.J. Barea also had 19.

"When you're playing nine guys ... you're just trying to survive," coach Rick Adelman said.

Minnesota did better than just get by in its most recent home game, routing Western Conference-leading San Antonio 107-83 on Tuesday. It has won two of three at the Target Center.

New Orleans, meanwhile, is on the verge of matching its longest road losing streak of the season after falling 96-87 in Washington on Friday.

"We as a team didn't play well. We didn't make shots like we should have. It seemed to be more of a team flow issue," said guard Eric Gordon, who scored a team-best 20. "We as a team were not in sync ... We just have to buckle down."

The Hornets haven't dropped six straight road games since Dec. 8-21, and head into Minnesota having lost 10 of 13 overall. Before last month's loss at the Target Center, New Orleans had won in nine of its previous 11 visits.

Gordon missed the last game against the Timberwolves because of his nagging knee problems but enters this one having scored 20 or more points in back-to-back games. The oft-injured guard hasn't played in Minnesota since he had 30 points in a loss for the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 17, 2010.

Gordon had 16 points while Greivis Vasquez registered 18 points and 13 assists in a 104-92 home victory over Minnesota on Jan. 11.