The Hornets have lost seven of eight games since opening the season with consecutive wins and opened a brief homestand with a 95-85 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday. Chris Kaman and Carl Landry had 17 points apiece to lead New Orleans, which has yet to score 100 points in a game.
"We showed that we can come out and jump on teams early, but we also showed we have difficulty of sustaining it for 48 minutes," said Hornets guard Jarrett Jack, who had eight points, eight assists and six rebounds. "Ultimately, it's frustrating. Taking care of the ball is crucial for us. When they convert [turnovers] into points, it's kind of like a double-edged sword. We need to do a better job of taking care of the ball."
Emeka Okafor, Marco Belinelli and DaJuan Summers had 10 points apiece in defeat. The Hornets fell to 1-4 as the host and sit last in the Southwest Division standings. They have allowed only one team to score 100 points this season in a 101-93 loss to Philadelphia on Jan. 4. The Hornets, losers of four straight at home, rank fifth in the NBA in points allowed per game (91.4 ppg).
Point guard Eric Gordon is still dealing with a knee injury and has played in only two of the team's 10 games this season. Forward Jason Smith (personal) is listed as probable for Friday's game, while forward Trevor Ariza (groin) and guard Xavier Henry (ankle) are day-to-day.
Minnesota has lost two straight and four of five games, and will begin a short road trip tonight against the Hornets and Hawks. It is 1-2 away from the Twin Cities this season and last in the Northwest Division standings.
The Timberwolves are coming off Tuesday's 111-100 loss to the Chicago Bulls in which reigning NBA MVP Derrick Rose pumped in 31 points and handed out 11 assists. Luke Ridnour led the Timberwolves with 22 points, while Kevin Love had 20 points and 13 rebounds for his 10th straight double-double to begin the season for Minnesota, which dropped to 3-7 on the season.
"We could have won the game," Love said. "But they had guys that hit big shots down the stretch."
Rookie Ricky Rubio had 13 points and 12 assists, and J.J. Barea added 10 points in defeat. Barea left the game in the fourth quarter with a sprained ankle and is expected to miss tonight's game. Forward and leading scorer Michael Beasley has missed the last three games with a foot issue and is out indefinitely. Love (personal) is listed as probable.
Minnesota took two of three meetings with New Orleans last season, but the Hornets have won 12 of the last 16 matchups in this series. The Timberwolves halted a five-game slide in the Big Easy with a 104-92 victory on Feb. 7, 2011.