T'Wolves Look For Improved Defense Against Pelicans

Even after his team knocked off one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau sounded like he was on the losing end of Wednesday's 112-109 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

The Timberwolves snapped a four-game losing streak but it hardly thrilled Thibodeau since he watched his team allow the Raptors to shoot 53.2 percent and make 11 of 24 3-pointers. Minnesota hosts the New Orleans Pelicans Friday night and Thibodeau hopes his defense will be improved.

"This isn't college," Thibodeau said. "There's a big difference between college and the NBA. Huge. And we gotta recognize that.

"Do your job. It's that simple. Everyone's counting on each other. Do your job."

Minnesota's defense allowed at least 100 points for the 12th straight game and improved to 3-17 when allowing opponents to shoot at least 50 percent.

One player who did his job, at least offensively was Andrew Wiggins. The third-year forward scored 31 points and spent time on the court with newcomer Lance Stephenson. Stephenson was signed to a 10-day contract and played 12 of his 20 minutes in the fourth. He scored six points and Stephenson's attitude pleased Thibodeau.

"This is a great opportunity for him and it's going to be what he makes of it," Thibodeau said. "How hard he works, his professionalism, what kind of teammate he is, how he performs, how he helps us is critical."

Stephenson played six games with the Pelicans earlier this season.

At 20-33, New Orleans has the same record as Minnesota. The Pelicans are 4-9 in their last 13 games and come off a 127-94 home loss to the Utah Jazz Wednesday. New Orleans allowed the Jazz to shoot 54.5 percent and allowed its third-highest point total of the season.

The Pelicans will play their next four on the road and have dropped their five road contests since a 104-95 win at Brooklyn on Jan. 12.

New Orleans may be without Tyreke Evans, who is listed as questionable with sprained left ankle after re-aggravating it Monday.

"This is when we've got to come together the most," Pelicans forward Anthony Davis told the New Orleans Times Picayune. "It's tough to win basketball games, especially on the road. We're gonna have to stick together, that's when you execute more."

Davis has been New Orleans' best player this year but was limited to just 12 points in Wednesday's loss to Utah. The Pelicans will need a better showing from Davis if they hope to start their road trip with a victory.

"Obviously, road trips are hard," New Orleans point guard Jrue Holiday told the New Orleans Times Picayune. "In this conference, you have to at least win some road trips. So, this is big for us."

New Orleans is 8-2 in the last 10 meetings. Davis posted 45 points and 10 rebounds in a 117-93 home win on Nov. 23 while Karl Anthony-Towns and Wiggins were limited to a combined 22 points on 6-of-30 from the floor.

Copyright © 2017 TTWN Media Networks Inc. Photo: Getty Images

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