CHARLOTTE — The Timberwolves entered Friday's game with the NBA's top three-point defense with opponents shooting 30.1%.
The Wolves saw some statistical regression to the mean in their three-point in their 133-115 loss to the Hornets as Charlotte hit 23 of 40 threes.
Three-point defense is a statistic that doesn't automatically mean a team is playing lights out defense. There's an element of luck that is baked into a stat like that — teams just miss shots against the Wolves. That's especially true of some of the Wolves' early-season opponents, who were among the worst teams in the league.
The NBA's website has tracking data that can determine how far away a player is from a defender when he shoots, and using that date, the league determined the Wolves were allowing the eighth most "wide open" three-point attempts at 18.6 per game. Teams were hitting those wide-open threes at a rate of 33.4%, which ranked third-lowest of any team's opponents in the league. For reference, the Spurs had opponents hitting the most open threes at 40.9%.
Kelly Oubre was the beneficiary of several open looks Friday with 27 points on 7 of 13 from beyond the arc.
Coach Chris Finch blamed the Wolves lack of defensive integrity for allowing many open looks to Charlotte — who didn't miss them unlike the Wolves' other opponents.
"Couldn't keep the ball out of the paint and I think they're like third in three-pointers generated from getting the ball into the paint," Finch said. "That was the story of the game in the halfcourt."
LaMelo Ball had 13 assists thanks to this.
This was one area the Wolves missed the injured Patrick Beverley, who will be re-evaluated after two weeks with a left adductor strain.
The Wolves don't want to use Beverley's absence as an excuse, and they will need to compensate for what he does well in terms of guarding the ball if they want to avoid a repeat night like Friday.
"Patrick is a huge part of what we do, particularly at the point of attack," Finch said. "Ball contain is his specialty. When we played 43 minutes without him the other night, we contained the ball much better than we did tonight. It'd be great to have him but we don't. That can't be our focus right now."
The Wolves have the benefit of a quick turnaround Saturday in Philadelphia, but their schedule will be ramping up in difficulty through December with several teams above .500 on the docket, including three of their next four.