The Wolves fell behind early in this one and stayed there, despite keeping the game within shouting distance, they were never able to make a decisive run and ultimately fell to the Rockets 116-111 in Houston.
One of the stories of this one was the Wolves starting back court of Ricky Rubio and Zach LaVine getting badly outplayed by their Rockets counterparts Patrick Beverly and James Harden. Harden scored an easy 29 points and added 14 assists while Beverly, who the Wolves decided to help off of for most of the night took advantage with five threes for 18 points and added 10 assists of his own. Meanwhile, LaVine struggled shooting the ball tonight, with a couple of late threes rescuing his line to an extent, while Rubio had several uncharacteristic turnovers that dampened the effect of a relatively effective shooting night.
The Rockets actually took an approach that we rarely see to defending Rubio. Usually teams go under screens against Rubio, which makes sense since he's such a poor shooter. However, that allows him to get moving downhill through the lane, and he often makes plays from that position. Instead, the Rockets frequently trapped Rubio aggressively off the pick and roll, which caused significant problems. It clearly took Rubio and the Wolves by surprise, and it resulted in some turnovers and poor possessions.
As is often the case, however, the key problem for the Wolves was defense. The Rockets shot 56% from the field and made 11 threes, and the Wolves could never string together enough stops to really get back in the game. Seven of the nine Rockets who attempted a shot made at least half their attempts, and the Wolves couldn't stop them from getting the shots they wanted. Despite shooting 56%, the Rockets also outrebounded the Wolves, with 13 offensive boards to 11 for the Wolves, and an overall 42-35 advantage on the glass.
Karl-Anthony Towns had a magnificent night on the offensive end, finishing with 32 points on 13-22 from the field. He made an array of shots, from jumpers to power moves inside to floaters in the lane. He helped keep the Wolves in the game with fantastic plays at several points in the game, but like the rest of the squad was unable to stem the tide defensively. In fact, the Wolves interior defense was exposed badly tonight, as the Rockets were able to get to the basket with very little resistance. Their interior players: Dwight Howard, Donatas Motiejunas, and Clint Capela combined to shoot 17-24 from the field, mostly off easy assists from the back court.
Enough. Let's go to some bullet points
- Michael Beasley recently signed with the Rockets, and he's still Michael Beasley. 14 shots in 26 minutes. He made eight of them and finished with 17 points and was a factor.
- Shabazz Muhammad had a nice night off the bench, going 5-7 from the field for 12 points.
- The Wolves themselves shot over 50% for what I think was the 12th time in their last 28 games, but it didn't matter as their defense was its usual terrible.
- Andrew Wiggins shot 8-12 from the field but had several poor turnovers, including a couple late when the Wolves were trying to make a final push.
- The Wolves return home for a Monday night meeting with the Warriors.