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PREVIEW: Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves visit Charlotte Hornets

Jan 9, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) in action in the first quarter against the San Antonio Spurs at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 9, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) in action in the first quarter against the San Antonio Spurs at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets have issues on defense that need to be sorted out.

The Minnesota Timberwolves might compound those problems now that their star player is back in action.

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Karl-Anthony Towns returned to action Wednesday night after an extended absence and leads the Timberwolves into Charlotte on Friday night.

“His wind was good,” Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders said of Towns. “Eighteen and 10 coming back from a layoff like he did was a good night for him.”

Meanwhile the Hornets gave up 23 baskets from 3-point range in Wednesday night’s 130-114 loss at Memphis. Those 23 threes were a Grizzlies franchise record.

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“There’s more we could have done,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said. “The defensive commitment we’ve had this season was not there.”

The Grizzlies allowed a fourth different opponent to reach a season high for made 3-pointers. So that’s a topic of concern for Charlotte.

“I thought our defense was trending in the right way,” Borrego said. “We had a step back. We’ve got to get that back.”

There are some basic solutions that might work, the Charlotte players say.

“We’ve got to do a better job of trying to run that guy off (the 3-point line) and get a hand up,” Charlotte guard Terry Rozier said.

Towns produced 18 points and 10 rebounds in his first game back — a 119-112 loss to the visiting Los Angeles Clippers.

Towns figures to gain strength as he plays more. He missed 13 games because of a bout with the coronavirus. He took certain pride in simply making it back into games, especially since the virus has taken a well-documented toll within his family.

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Playing basketball is something of a reprieve for Towns.

“I was just smiling on the court, even when it got to the end, because I was just so proud of myself to get to this point,” Towns said. “It’s been a long process.”

Still, Minnesota has holes in its lineup. Guard D’Angelo Russell sat out with a sore left leg. Russell’s status is considered day-to-day, although whenever he makes it back, the combination of him and Towns would provide a significant boost.

The loss to the Clippers was Minnesota’s third straight overall.

The Hornets tend to find rotating sources of big offense, particularly in the backcourt. The latest player to have a big game was Rozier, who poured in 34 points in 33 minutes at Memphis.

“We got discouraged, especially in the second half when they started hitting threes,” Rozier said.

Charlotte also has received significant bench production from forward Miles Bridges, who has posted three straight double-doubles. That’s the longest double-double streak for a reserve in the NBA this season.

The Hornets are tipping off a five-game homestand, their longest of the season. This figures to be a crucial stretch because of an extended West Coast trip that begins later this month.

The Timberwolves and Hornets are meeting for the first time this season.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Minnesota Timberwolves, check out #Timberwolves rumors, rankings, and news here

–Field Level Media