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NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, January 11th (All times Eastern)
Minnesota Timberwolves (16-16) at New Orleans Hornets (10-25), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The New Orleans Hornets have picked up their game lately, winning a season-best three straight and five of their last eight, and will close out a three-game homestand Friday versus the Minnesota Timberwolves.
New Orleans made it three impressive wins in a row with Wednesday's 88-79 victory over the Houston Rockets and was led by 17 points apiece from Greivis Vasquez, Jason Smith and Roger Mason Jr. Vasquez added 11 assists and Smith pulled down 10 rebounds for the Hornets, who have recorded victories against Dallas, San Antonio and now Houston.
The Hornets had a 29-10 advantage in the fourth quarter.
"Jason (Smith) was a big part of that, he distracted a lot of shots tonight," Hornets coach Monty Williams said. "The defense helped us win the game."
Williams' squad allowed only James Harden to reach double figures in scoring with 25 points and made 41.7 percent from the floor. Robin Lopez had 14 points in the win and has scored 10 or more points in seven of his last 11 games, posting 14.1 ppg in that stretch.
Vasquez is averaging 18.9 points and 10.6 assists in his past six.
New Orleans, which is 5-13 at home and hasn't won four straight since last April 11-16, will open a three-game road trip Sunday against New York, Philadelphia and Boston.
Minnesota didn't get its four-game road trip off to a good start and suffered a 106-84 loss at Oklahoma City on Wednesday.
Without forward Kevin Love and guard J.J. Barea, the Wolves received 18 points from Alexey Shved and 17 points and 10 rebounds out of Nikola Pekovic.
"We played hard, we just ran out of gas," Timberwolves assistant coach Terry Porter said. "We just didn't do a good enough job."
Oklahoma City used a late 16-4 surge to put the game out of reach.
The Timberwolves announced prior to the game that Love will undergo surgery to repair his recently fractured right hand and is expected to miss between 8- to-10 weeks. Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio played on consecutive days for the first time since returning from ACL surgery last month, and had seven assists in 22 minutes.
Meanwhile, Barea is doubtful for Friday's game against New Orleans.
Minnesota, losers in seven of the past 11 games, will also visit San Antonio and Dallas, and is 6-11 outside the Twin Cities. The Wolves defeated the Hornets, 113-102, on Dec. 14 this season and got 31 points from Pekovic in that one. Ryan Anderson led New Orleans with 20 points. Anderson did not score in the recent win over Houston and leads the team with 17.2 ppg.
01/11 10:25:29 ET
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