A night after the Minnesota Timberwolves suffered a late-game collapse in a loss to the Detroit Pistons at Target Center, they hit the road to take on a struggling Charlotte Hornets team in hopes of getting things back on track.
Instead, the Wolves ran into much of the same on Monday night in the second game of a back-to-back at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, falling to the Hornets 118-102.
Minnesota struggled late in the contest for the second straight game. Carrying a four-point lead going into the fourth quarter, the Hornets outscored the Wolves 34-22 in the final frame to come away with the win.
The Wolves were led by Jeff Teague with 18 points, three steals, three blocks and two assists. Karl-Anthony Towns, who had only four shot attempts through three quarters, went on to finish with 18 points, 12 rebounds and two assists. Jimmy Butler had 14 points and seven rebounds and Andrew Wiggins tallied 11 points and two assists.
Minnesota’s bench, which played well below par in the first game of the back-to-back, put together three solid quarters before struggling once again in the fourth quarter against the Hornets, allowing Charlotte to begin its run to pull away with the victory. Jamal Crawford was the highlight of the bench production, tallying 19 points in 18 minutes. Nemanja Bjelica and Gorgui Dieng both contributed seven points for the Wolves.
From start to finish, the physical presence of Dwight Howard was too much for Minnesota to deal with. Howard led Charlotte with 25 points, 20 rebounds and four blocks. Frank Kaminsky finished with 24 points and three assists off the bench, Nicolas Batum, who stepped up big in the fourth quarter, had 17 points and four rebounds, Jeremy Lamb had 16 points and five rebounds and Kemba Walker added 14 points and four rebounds.
A key in the loss for the Wolves was once again their shooting from beyond the arc, as well as their inability to slow down the opposition in the same category. Minnesota shot 22.2 percent from deep and finished at 41.1 percent from the field while allowing Charlotte to make 11 three’s and finish shooting 49.4 percent from the field.
Minnesota wraps up a tough back-to-back having lost two straight and sit at 10-7 overall on the season. But for the Wolves — who return home on Wednesday to kick off a four-game homestand back at Target Center — for that losing streak to end, they must figure out these late-game struggles.