Despite ending the first half with a 10-point lead, the Minnesota Timberwolves failed to secure their 11th win of the season after falling short in the hands of the Charlotte Hornets, 108-110.
Coming into the game on a five-game winning streak, the Wolves seemed to successfully bring the momentum from their previous games and immediately had their game going right off the bat. However, things took a turn in the third quarter as the Hornets, led by Kelly Oubre’s 28 points, forced the Wolves to struggle both on their offensive and defensive ends.
Now standing with a 10-9 slate, the Minneapolis-based squad sits at the 10th seat in the Western Conference, a win ahead of the Golden State Warriors.
With the 2022 NBA season slowly heating up, can Minnesota get back on track and earn the fruits of its offseason efforts? In addition, did the loss to the Hornets affect the Wolves’ 2022 NBA odds?
WHAT WENT WRONG
Throughout the game’s duration, Minnesota had all the chances to snatch the win and extend their winning streak to six. After playing like a well-oiled machine in the first two quarters, the Wolves failed to protect their 10-point lead and were outscored by the Hornets in the second half, 46-58.
The Wolves struggled to stop the Hornets’ offense, who flexed a 44.9 percent success rate from the field and 32.0 from beyond the arc at the end of the game. It was Oubre who hurt the Wolves’ defenders the most, generating an exceptional 47.6 percent efficiency from the field and 42.9 on 3s.
On the other hand, Minnesota’s shooting went downhill in the second half. Towns, for example, was 0 for 8 from the deep in the last two quarters. It certainly did not help that Oubre and Rozier’s duo was on fire all game long, enough to cut their visitor’s double-digit lead to four.
What added to the Wolves’ woes was the fact that Charlotte had reliable guns from the bench to bank on. Theo Maledon came off the bench and provided seven straight points for the Hornets.
Kelly Oubre Jr. scored a game-high 28 PTS as the Hornets (6-14) withstood a Timberwolves (10-9) 4th qtr rally to win 110-108 at home. #LetsFly
Terry Rozier: 22-4-8
P.J. Washington: 16-3reb-1blk
D'Angelo Russell: 20-4-10-1stl
Anthony Edwards: 25-5-4-1stl
Rudy Gobert: 17-17-1-2-2 pic.twitter.com/xMBxL7IeYH
— Playmakers Radio (@Playmakers_NBA) November 26, 2022
Kai Jones Causes Damage
Kai Jones was also instrumental in the North Carolina-based squad’s win, tallying 9 points and 12 rebounds, both career highs, for his team. Minnesota did not see these coming and was not able to contain their opponent eventually. A few more steals and possessions by the Hornets had the Wolves head into the final quarter down by eight.
Minnesota’s struggles continued after failing to give an answer to the Hornets’ six-point run at the beginning of the final quarter. Nick Richard’s denial of Gobert’s dunk followed by a hammer by Jones extended Charlotte’s lead to ten.
They slowly got their game going and took advantage of the Hornets’ sloppy offense to direct a 17-5 run, cutting the latter’s lead to one. Not long after, a three-point bomb from Rozier brought the lead back to four with 3:05 remaining.
The Wolves had the chance to tie the game after Rozier missed a floater but an offensive rebound by the Hornets forced the former to foul Washington, who made one of the two free throws and eventually sealed the deal for the Hornets.
Kai Jones NBA highlights HORNETS vs TIMBERWOLVES 25-11-2022 REGULAR SEASON https://t.co/4uVNlzxCiT
— NBA Players Highlights (@NBAPlayersHigh) November 26, 2022
WHAT TO WORK ON
Statistically speaking, the Wolves’ defense has been doing well since the beginning of the season. Meanwhile, the team’s offense has been catching up in their recent games, comparatively better than their first few outputs.
This can be observed in their matchup a couple of days ago against the Pacers, where they posted an impressive 61/36/76 shooting split.
Nonetheless, in the loss against the Hornets, the Wolves found themselves in the same hole as they were in in the early weeks of the season as their splits fell to 42/22/94.
Although they did better on the free throws, a low success rate from the field and beyond the arc is not what one would expect from a high-caliber team like the Wolves, especially after tapping the services of three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert.
Speaking of which, the Wolves should take full advantage of Gobert’s presence as he can give the rest of the squad more space to establish plays and take shots. Since joining the team, Gobert has been exceeding expectations as he has not only been a good defender but also became a reliable shooter for Minnesota.
In their loss against the Hornets, the 7-foot-1 center generated 17 points off a 60% efficiency from the field and 100% from the line, along with 17 rebounds, 2 blocks, and a steal. This is an outstanding output for Gobert especially after suffering a sprain beforehand.
KAT, on the other hand, has to get back on track as soon as possible as his output against the Hornets was way below his usual stats, tallying a 27/9/85 shooting split. This is necessary, especially as they prepare to face the Warriors on Sunday.
On the brighter side, Edwards and Russell have been a good support system to the duo of KAT and Gobert. These two’s presence has been crucial in keeping the Wolves’ playoff hopes alive, combining for 45 points against the Hornets.
Rudy Gobert NBA highlights TIMBERWOLVES vs HORNETS 25-11-2022 REGULAR SEASON https://t.co/SFZvY1rB34
— NBA Players Highlights (@NBAPlayersHigh) November 26, 2022
In addition, the rest of the squad can also be given more time on the floor, especially in games where Minnesota has a safe, huge lead in order to establish consistency and reliability in them in the upcoming games. This can come in handy for the team, especially when a starter is sidelined or just cannot find his groove.
It was a reliable bench that saved the Hornets and turned the game around. The same can be true for the Wolves, especially as a roster packed with skills that when maximized, can help them advance to the playoffs and eventually to the finals.
Say the Wolves are able to work on these rough spots, a slot in the playoffs can be reserved for them.
With a quarter of the regular season almost over, the Wolves have to push their roster’s potential to its limit and put an end to their Waterloos.
Beginning and ending a game strong and eventually investing in a new winning streak should definitely be their focus now in order to pull up their standings and make up for sorry losses like this.
The Minnesota Timberwolves will try to get back on track as they battle it out against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday at the Target Center.