The Houston Rockets got out to a quick 13-2 lead against the Wolves early tonight, and kept the lead throughout the night, holding the Wolves at bay and making 20 three pointers. The Rockets seemed content to more or less ignore the defensive end of the floor, knowing they could score just about whenever the wanted against an overmatched Wolves team.
As a result the Wolves had one of their more effective offensive performances is a while, shooting 49% overall, going 6-14 from three, and making 30-34 free throws. It wasn't nearly enough, as they simply had no answer for the Rockets offense, inside or out. 20-44 from three was seasoned by an 8-9 effort from Dwight Howard, who dunked on the Wolves relentlessly. 18 turnovers by the Rockets, their Achilles heel that might wind up costing them in the playoffs, was about the only way the Wolves could get stops, as even when the missed, the Rockets gobbled up 13 offensive boards.
The biggest bright spot for the Wolves, who were once again limited to 8 players, was the relentless play of Andrew Wiggins on the offensive end. He attacked the basket throughout the game, and it paid off with 15 free throw attempts, of which he made 12. Overall, Wiggins finished with 31 hard earned points on 9-17 from the field, even more impressive given it was his third straight 40+ minute night. This was the 2nd game in a row, and third in his last five, that Wiggins has gotten double digit free throw attempts.
Chase Budinger also continued his late season renaissance, scoring 23 points on 7-10 from the field in 29 minutes. He was very impressive, making 3-4 from outside the arc and attacking off pump fakes for paint points and free throws. It's nice to see Bud have a little success after two incredibly frustrating seasons.
In the end, perhaps as much due to the Rockets conservation of effort as the Wolves play, what looked early like it was going to be a recipe game remained relatively competitive throughout. Still, it was the Wolves 56th loss of the season as we stumble toward the finish line with one eye on the lottery prospects playing in the NCAA tournament. Again.