The Charlotte Hornets are not at full strength and they are far from a smooth operation.
So maybe it’s a certain amount of toughness that will have to come to fruition for the team to have much success.
“We just made a lot of hard plays and got the win,” guard Terry Rozier said, referring to a rare win earlier in the week.
The Hornets haven’t won any back-to-back games this season, but they’ll look to achieve that feat on Friday when they face the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Timberwolves have been rolling for over a week and are on a five game winning streak in the game after a 115-101 win on Wednesday night in Indiana. That’s as many wins as Charlotte has all season — and the longest active winning streak in the NBA.
It also took a week and a half for the Timberwolves to double their season win from five to ten.
“It was fun,” said Timberwolves big man Rudy Gobert. “Every night we try to set the tone.”
The Timberwolves played their best game of the season in Indianapolis, said coach Chris Finch.
“Each time they played, they were a little bit better,” Finch said of the starting unit. “It takes a while.”
The Hornets won their second home game on Wednesday night by beating the Philadelphia 76ers 107-101. Still, Charlotte is 2-11 in the last 13 games in total.
Strange as it may sound, the Hornets needed to win in a close game rather than one where they had a comfortable lead.
“It’s more satisfying to run the stretch and have something that wasn’t a runaway,” said center Mason Plumlee.
Rozier is the team’s top scorer with 20.4 points per game. He had 22 points in the Philadelphia game despite not scoring in the first quarter.
“My confidence never leaves me,” said Rozier. “I’m always a man to go home, look myself in the mirror and if I’ve made mistakes I’ll always be hard on myself. My coaches and my teammates have great faith in me.”
Having Rozier back in the lineup is a welcome sight for the Hornets, as he missed time earlier in the season with an ankle injury. His presence is even more important with backcourt mate LaMelo Ball out with an ankle injury.
“He plays huge minutes and he has a lot of responsibility,” said Charlotte coach Steve Clifford.
Clifford said there is cause for concern about how the Hornets have attacked early in some games. That could be a bigger focus against the Timberwolves, who are ranked #1 in the NBA in the first quarter.
The Hornets have also struggled in the transition. So despite the changes to the lineup and the hesitant availability of some players, that’s something the team wants to improve.
“We should be hungry to get the defensive rebound and get out and go,” Plumlee said.
The Timberwolves will undoubtedly be aware of that.
“Teams that play fast, move the ball well have really gotten us into trouble so far,” said Finch.