The rested New Orleans Pelicans should have a distinct advantage in energy and preparedness when they host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday. While the Timberwolves will be playing their third game in four days - including Tuesday’s 92-89 loss to Washington in the finale of a four-game homestand - the Pelicans will be playing their first in that span.
The three-day respite - the longest of the season thus far for New Orleans - will allow the players to lick their wounds from a 110-95 loss at Golden State on Saturday. The 95-point effort was the Pelicans’ lowest output since Oct. 24 and big man DeMarcus Cousins struggled while producing 15 points and six turnovers in 31 minutes. If energy is in short order, the Timberwolves should at least be motivated to put forth a better effort after they lost a fourth-quarter lead at home to the Wizards, scoring a total of 59 points over the final three quarters. Minnesota claimed the first meeting with New Orleans 104-98 on Nov. 1 despite a rough outing for star center Karl-Anthony Towns, who was held to two points on 1-of-7 shooting.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN North (Minnesota), FSN New Orleans
ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (12-9): Minnesota has struggled to find consistent production from its bench and that was the case again in Tuesday’s loss, as four reserves combined for 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting. Towns (20 points, 17 rebounds), Jimmy Butler (17 points, 10 assists) and Taj Gibson (16 points, 11 rebounds) each recorded double-doubles as all five starters finished with a positive plus-minus rating. Point guard Jeff Teague missed his third straight game with an Achilles issue but was able to test it out pregame and could be ready for the second half of the back-to-back.
ABOUT THE PELICANS (11-9): New Orleans’ starting lineup has undergone some changes of late, first getting point guard Rajon Rondo back and then re-inserting E’Twaun Moore and putting him at the small forward spot, where he has given the team a spark. “E’Twaun is able to score the basketball and make the right plays,” forward Anthony Davis told The Times-Picayune. “It’s good when he’s around (the starters). ... When he’s out there, he’s definitely a threat on both sides of the floor.” The 28-year-old Moore is shooting 51.5 percent as a starter and 38.9 percent overall from beyond the arc after making 4-of-6 against the Warriors.
1. Cousins had 35 points, nine rebounds, six assists and six steals in the first meeting.
2. Towns owns five straight double-doubles and 10 in the last 11 games.
3. Pelicans SF Dante Cunningham, who was recently benched in favor of Moore, left Saturday’s loss with a knee issue and is day-to-day.
PREDICTION: Pelicans 108, Timberwolves 100