Hornets bid to get back on track vs. tumbling Timberwolves

The Charlotte Hornets aren’t making excuses despite the physical toll they’ve endured recently.

Gordon Hayward (hand bruise) and Cody Zeller (hip bruise) were among the players unavailable for Charlotte during a 123-111 loss at the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night.

Devonte’ Graham also has missed the past six games with left knee soreness and might remain out until after the All-Star break.

The Hornets were down to only nine healthy players for the second consecutive game.

The last stop on Charlotte’s six-game road swing comes Wednesday night in Minneapolis against the plummeting Minnesota Timberwolves, who have lost eight consecutive games.

“That’s all we have, this is our roster,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “These are the active bodies, and we will continue to fight with what’s available.”

P.J. Washington scored a career-high 42 points in Charlotte’s 127-126 win over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday.

Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball scored a game-high 30 points and grabbed eight rebounds against the Trail Blazers, while Terry Rozier poured in 20 points. Malik Monk also had 19 points off the bench.

But the Hornets couldn’t slow down Portland’s 3-point barrage as the home team converted 24 attempts from beyond the arc.

Rozier, who is averaging 20.2 points per game, erupted for 41 on Feb. 12 when the Hornets posted a 120-114 victory over Minnesota in Charlotte, N.C.

Monk is averaging 16.9 points over the past 10 games.

Ball’s performance was his fifth consecutive 20-plus point game.

“(Ball) makes plays, he gets in passing lanes,” Borrego said. “He gets his hands on balls, he anticipates at a high level.”

The Timberwolves had no answer for Devin Booker, who scored 21 of his 43 points in the third quarter of the Suns’ 118-99 win on Sunday.

Minnesota is now 0-4 and allowing 129.5 points per game since Chris Finch replaced Ryan Saunders as its new coach. The matchup with Charlotte will be the Timberwolves’ last before the All-Star break.

“Emotion, road trip, changing coach, change a lot of things, and I think we’re not figuring it out,” Ricky Rubio said. “To be honest, we’re not playing good. We’re kind of competing and we’re getting to a point where the third quarter and fourth quarter we’re always close, and then they go on a run and we can’t stop that, and it’s been way too many times.”

Minnesota is 1-10 since Karl-Anthony Towns returned to its lineup. Towns finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds against Phoenix.

Rookie Anthony Edwards (14.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists per game) continues to be a bright spot, however, scoring 24 points on 8-for-22 shooting against Phoenix.

Edwards also serves as an offensive catalyst in light of the prolonged absence of D’Angelo Russell due to recent left knee surgery and Malik Beasley’s 12-game suspension.

Edwards showed more aggressiveness against the Suns, attacking the rim frequently and going 6-for-6 at the free throw line.

“I’m a rook (so) I may not get those calls this year, but it’s coming,” Edwards said.

–Field Level Media

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