NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, January 14th (All times eastern)
Minnesota Timberwolves (4-7) at Atlanta Hawks (8-4), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Hawks passed their first test without All-Star big man Al Horford but it remains to be seen how long the club can keep its head above water without the Florida product.
Atlanta will hit the hardwood again tonight sans Horford as it resumes a four- game homestand aiming for its 11th straight win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Hawks learned they would be without Horford, who was averaging 12.4 points and 7.0 rebounds in 11 games this season, for 3-to-4 months Thursday and then responded with a 111-81 dismantling of the Charlotte Bobcats.
Josh Smith had game-highs of 30 points and 13 rebounds, while Joe Johnson added 23 points in the win. Zaza Pachulia played over 31 minutes, scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the absence of Horford, who suffered a torn pectoral muscle during Wednesday's loss at Indiana.
"I heard it actually on the way to the game," Smith said of the Horford news. "It was really devastating."
In addition to Pachulia, 27-year-old rookie Ivan Johnson added assistance on the front line, scoring 12 points and grabbing seven boards in a little over 20 minutes.
"Guys came in and played terrific," continued Smith. "Ivan has been giving us a [heck] of a performance thus far."
Atlanta, which is 4-1 at Philips Arena, is also dealing with more minor injuries to forward Marvin Williams (ankle) and swingman Tracy McGrady (back). Both of those players are listed as questionable for tonight.
The Wolves, meanwhile, snapped a two-game skid by opening up a brief, two-game southern road trip by upending New Orleans 87-80 on Friday. Kevin Love finished with 34 points and 15 rebounds and hit all but one of 18 free throw attempts in that one to carry Minnesota.
Ricky Rubio, making his first career start, chipped in 12 points and nine assists and hit the go-ahead free throws down the stretch as the Wolves won for just the second time in six games. Luke Ridnour added 13 points in the victory.
The Timberwolves shot 33-of-38 (87 percent) from the foul line while the Hornets made only half of their 16 attempts in their eighth loss in nine games.
"You can question calls all day, but that wasn't it," said Hornets head coach Monty Williams. "I just felt like we didn't trust our defense, and we were grabbing guys instead of moving our feet."
The Hornets never trailed in the first half, leading 21-16 at the end of the first quarter and 38-37 at intermission but Minnesota put on the clamps in the third quarter, holding the hosts to 6-of-24 shooting to take a double-digit lead.
"We did exactly what we wanted to do when we came out in the second half. We felt like we could control the game," Love said.
Forward Michael Beasley (foot) and guard J.J. Barea (ankle) remain on the sidelines for the Timberwolves, who haven't topped the Hawks since an 84-83 win in the Twin Cities back on April 9, 2006. Minnesota hasn't won in the ATL since 2002.
01/14 10:42:27 ET