Preview: Pelicans at Timberwolves
The Minnesota Timberwolves are getting a fresh start and Karl-Anthony Towns is taking advantage. Towns will welcome a trio of new teammates and try to lead the Timberwolves to back-to-back wins when they host the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.
Towns was the big winner of the trade that sent disgruntled swingman Jimmy Butler to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Robert Covington, Dario Saric and Jerryd Bayless, and he played like someone with a weight lifted off his shoulders in a 120-113 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Monday. The 22-year-old former No. 1 overall pick made up for 10 turnovers by scoring 25 points on 9-of-11 shooting and grabbing 21 rebounds in the victory. The Pelicans, who were reportedly involved in talks for Butler but refused to include guard Jrue Holiday in any potential deal, come in hot with wins in three straight after starting the road trip with a 126-110 victory over East-leading Toronto on Monday. “We played really good tonight and we beat them, but it’s one game,” New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry told reporters. “I’d like to say this is going to springboard us, but it’s one game and they understand that, too. It’s a good win for us on the road against a very good team.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN, FS New Orleans, FS North (Minnesota)
ABOUT THE PELICANS (7-6): Holiday showed why New Orleans insisted he not be included in any deal when he collected 29 points on 12-of-19 shooting and 14 assists on Monday while taking part in a defensive effort that held Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry and Danny Green to a combined 9-of-33 from the floor. “I think Jrue (Holiday) had a great floor game, and I thought he was fantastic defensively,” Gentry told reporters. “If Kawhi goes 7-for-20, you’ve done an outstanding job on him because not only is he a great defender, but he is also a great scorer and great shooter, and I thought Jrue did a really good job on him.” Holiday is averaging 23.2 points on 54.1 percent shooting and 10.8 assists over the last five games.
ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (5-9): Covington, Saric and Bayless sat out on Monday, hours after the trade was finalized, but will practice with the team on Tuesday and are expected to be in uniform Wednesday. “We wanted quality players. That was important for us,” Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters. “(We get) two starters (Covington and Saric) off a team that won 52 games, and they’re both young. … Once we get to that point where we felt we were getting multiple rotational players, we felt it would be time to execute the deal.” Saric, 24, got off to a slow start in 2018-19 after averaging 14.6 points in a breakout 2017-18 campaign while Covington, 27, is shooting 39 percent from 3-point range and was leading Philadelphia in steals (1.8) at the time of the trade.
1.Pelicans PF Nikola Mirotic (ankle) sat out the last two games and is day-to-day.
2. Bayless (knee) has yet to make his season debut and is likely out at least another week.
3. Minnesota took all four meetings last season by an average of 13.3 points.