|Timberwolves, Hornets both need late runs for playoff spot|
The Charlotte Hornets and Minnesota Timberwolves have nearly identical records. One is still battling for a playoff spot; the other is all but eliminated.
Just don't tell Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns the odds as his team heads into a game at Charlotte on Thursday night.
"We have to keep playing as if we're going to make it," Towns said in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune after the Timberwolves lost their fourth consecutive game, 117-107 to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday. "There is still a mathematical chance. I know it sounds corny, but it's true."
Yes, he's technically right, but a bunch of crazy stuff would have to happen for Minnesota (32-39) to find its way into the playoffs in the loaded Western Conference.
Meanwhile, Charlotte (31-39) needs only some mildly interesting scenarios to play out in the East, but part of that is taking care of its own business, which is something the Hornets have failed to do recently.
Charlotte is going in the wrong direction, having lost four of five games, including a 118-114 home loss to Philadelphia on Tuesday night. Jeremy Lamb could have tied the game in the final seconds but missed a driving layup that bounced around the rim. The Sixers sealed the game with two free throws.
An example of the Hornets' pain: They went 0-4 against Philadelphia this season, falling by a total of 10 points -- twice in overtime.
"It was a tough loss and another close game," Charlotte coach James Borrego said in his postgame press conference.
"The guys battled again, against a very good team. We've been battling this team all season. We've been right there with this team; the same type of game tonight.
"I thought we played well enough to get this win, we just couldn't close it out. I think we got great looks. We got better looks than they got down the stretch. Their shots were tough. ... We had two wide-open 3s and a layup and we didn't win the game, so give Philly credit. We'll keep marching on."
The Hornets are 4-11 in their past 15 games, with three of the victories coming against the Washington Wizards. Charlotte is 10th in the East, falling three games back of eighth-place Miami after Tuesday night.
"Gotta keep searching for answers and keep digging," Borrego said.
All-Star guard Kemba Walker continues to lead the way for Charlotte, averaging 24.9 points and 5.7 assists.
But it is Towns, a 23-year-old 7-footer, who is playing at an other-worldly level.
He averaged 30.9 points, 13.8 rebounds and 4.1 assists in February, extending that tear into March, when he is putting up 30.1 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists.
Towns had 26 points with 21 rebounds in Tuesday's loss to the Warriors -- his sixth 20-20 of the season. He needs 10 points to pass Kevin Love (6,989 points) and move into fourth place on the franchise's career scoring list.
Minnesota is 9-28 on the road. Only five other NBA teams have failed to reach double-digit road victories.
"Whether we make the playoffs or not, this is our job to go out there and compete every night and fight," forward Andrew Wiggins said in the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. "We're all family here, and you want to fight for your family."
--Field Level Media