The Timberwolves bolted to a 10-point first-quarter lead against the Charlotte Hornets, but faded in the second half and lost 98-86 in Charlotte on Monday night for their first preseason defeat.
Wolves guard Zach LaVine led all scorers with 30 points on 13-for-20 shooting, but was the only Wolves starter in double figures. Shabazz Muhammad had 12 points and Bloomington’s Cole Aldrich led the team with nine rebounds. But Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins combined for only 13 points, and Ricky Rubio committed five fouls in 15 minutes, finishing with three points and five rebounds.
The Hornets, meanwhile, placed seven players in double figures in their first preseason victory.
Charlotte pulled within 54-47 by halftime, then went ahead with a 10-2 run to open the second. Charlotte’s advantage grew to as many as 16 points in the fourth as it ended up cruising to victory in front of the hometown fans.
Leading the way for the Hornets was second-year power forward Frank Kaminsky, who notched a team-high 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting while also recording four rebounds and two blocks in 28 minutes off the bench. Kaminsky also made four of eight three-pointers.
Guard Kemba Walker totaled 15 points, five rebounds and two assists in 24 minutes for Charlotte, including a buzzer-beating three-pointer that ended the first half.
Other noteworthy performances included Nicolas Batum, who tallied 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting to go along with six rebounds and game-high five assists. Marvin Williams went 9-of-9 from the free-throw line as he finished with 11 points and seven rebounds while Spencer Hawes chipped in six points, a game-high 11 rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Jeremy Lamb (16 points) and Ramon Sessions (10 points) also scored in double figures for the Hornets.
After a rough outing from behind the arc this past Saturday against Boston, the Hornets’ range was dramatically improved against Minnesota as they connected on 12-of-36 attempts from long distance (33.3 percent), to the Wolves’ 7-for-26 (26.9 percent). Charlotte also outrebounded the Wolves 51-50 and finished with 16 turnovers, four fewer than it had against the Celtics on Saturday.