Timberwolves news: Ugly loss to Hornets, Karl-Anthony Towns’ progress, Taurean Prince’s absence

Kyle Anderson, Minnesota Timberwolves Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Anderson, Minnesota Timberwolves Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports /

Following the conclusion of the NBA All-Star break, it was a rough return to action for the Minnesota Timberwolves. The team once again withered against subpar competition and wound up with another inexplicable loss.

It was the latest game in a season-long trend of the Wolves being unable to close out teams living at the bottom of the standings. Friday’s contest with the Charlotte Hornets was the team’s first of 21 games since All-Star festivities concluded, and Minnesota could not have entered the final quarter of their season on a worse note.

Timberwolves fans are painfully aware that if their team does not pull things together in short order, they will be on the outside of the playoffs looking in come April. As the Wolves attempt to make a push with the postseason looming, there are several relevant news items to pay attention to. Minnesota will need as many factors working in their favor as possible from here on out.

Timberwolves news roundup:

  • Minnesota’s loss to Charlotte was their eighth loss of the season to the teams with the five worst records in the NBA. This season, the Timberwolves have been swept by the Hornets and Pistons, lost one game apiece to the Rockets and Magic, and lost two of three games to the Spurs. In a tight Western Conference, these losses will likely be what ends up keeping them from avoiding the play-in tournament.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns appears to be getting closer to returning to action for the Timberwolves. Chris Finch has not provided an official timeline for a return, but Austin Rivers mentioned in his latest podcast episode that Towns is hopeful that he can be back “in the next couple of weeks.”
  • Taurean Prince missed Friday’s game against the Hornets for personal reasons, having been added to the injury report the day of the game. His availability in the final 20 games will be crucial for the Timberwolves, as they hold a record of 21-16 this season when Prince plays.
  • Nickeil Alexander-Walker got his first major opportunity with the club on Friday, logging 24 minutes and scoring 13 points against Charlotte, while knocking down three-of-four shots from beyond the arc. NAW’s ability to provide solid minutes over these final 20 games will be huge for Minnesota, especially if Prince continues to miss time.

NBA news roundup:

  • The Atlanta Hawks recently parted ways with former Head Coach Nate McMillan. Former Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder is the favorite to succeed McMillan, and a deal could be made official on Sunday.
  • Friday’s game between the Clippers and Kings in Los Angeles concluded as the second-highest scoring game in NBA history. The Kings defeated the Clippers, 176-175, in double overtime.
  • Kevin Durant shook the NBA to its core when the Nets traded him to the Phoenix Suns on February 9, and Durant is hoping to make his debut with his new team this Wednesday when the Suns face the Charlotte Hornets on the road.
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo suffered a knee injury against the Miami Heat in the Bucks’ first game after the All-Star break. Currently listed as day-to-day, Giannis should not miss significant time, but it is something to monitor for the second-place team in the East.

More. NBA standings based on remaining strength of schedule. light