|Timberwolves aim for sweep of Hornets|
The Minnesota Timberwolves will attempt to cool one of the hottest things going in the NBA when they visit Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night.
The Timberwolves will have to endure the second night of a back-to-back after taking a 100-97 home defeat at the hands of the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night. The loss ended Minnesota's three-game winning streak.
Minnesota will be seeking its first season-series sweep of the Hornets since 2012 in the rematch of a game the Timberwolves won 112-94 at home on Nov. 5.
The Timberwolves also were dealing with a second game in two nights in that one, but that time were playing both contests at home and were coming off a 112-99 win over the Dallas Mavericks on the front end.
Minnesota point guard Jeff Teague outplayed Walker in the first meeting, recording an 18-point, 12-assist double-double in the one-sided win.
Walker was held to a season-low nine points on 4-for-15 shooting, but he has rebounded with a vengeance, scoring 20 or more points in five straight games.
The sequence includes a 47-point explosion Friday at Chicago, followed by a 26-point contribution Saturday in a 102-87 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
The victory snapped a six-game losing streak for the Hornets and tipped off a three-game homestand.
Walker has now connected on 11 of his last 17 3-pointers after misfiring on 26 of his previous 34 over a five-game stretch.
"I have been struggling to start the season with shooting the 3, but I am trying to stay positive and confident in my shot," he noted after the Clippers game. "I just want to continue to be consistent."
The Timberwolves have been the more consistent of the two teams entering the Monday matchup. They had won three consecutive games by at least 11 points apiece before seeing a late lead slip away Sunday against Detroit.
Still, the Timberwolves had a chance to forge a late tie when, with his team down by three, Jimmy Butler was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 6.2 seconds remaining.
Butler made the first two free throws but missed the third, allowing the Pistons to hold on after adding a pair of game-clinching foul shots of their own.
Some Timberwolves were crying foul when the Pistons' Reggie Jackson appeared to disrupt Butler's third free-throw attempt by shouting something at a teammate.
Butler, the Timberwolves' leading scorer with 26 points, shouldered the blame.
"He had nothing to do with that," Butler said of Jackson. "I just missed one."
A balanced attack keyed the Timberwolves' earlier win over the Hornets. Six Minnesota players scored 13 or more points, including Jamal Crawford and Gorgui Dieng off the bench.
However, the bench failed the Timberwolves on Sunday, with five reserves combining for just 18 points in the narrow defeat.
The Hornets, meanwhile, have made a key change to their lineup since they last saw the Timberwolves. Jeremy Lamb, who started the team's first 12 games, has come off the bench in the past three and scored in double figures in each.
Lamb had 17 points Saturday in Charlotte's win over the Clippers.