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Wolves at Rockets: Trying to Slow a Juggernaut

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Wolves are in Houston to take on the Rockets on the second night of a back-to-back.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Wolves at Rockets
8:00 pm CST
FS North

The Wolves begin a four game road trip and play the second night of a back to back tonight against a Rockets team that came firing out of the gate post All-Star break by blowing out the Pelicans and now sit at 41-18 on the season.

The Rockets have been an incredibly potent offensive team all season under coach Mike D’Antoni, and added to their arsenal at the trade deadline by dealing for Lou Williams, a veteran scoring guard who promptly made seven threes and scored 27 points in his debut.

We all know that the Rockets play fast, lead the league in threes, and eschew the mid-range, and with James Harden surrounded by shooters are almost impossible to slow down. They are second in the league in offensive rating, average an astonishing 40 three-point attempts a game, and get to the line with frequency. To the extent they have an Achilles heel offensively, it’s turnovers. They are very loose with the ball, and the Wolves will have to win the turnover battle decisively, and score off them, to have a chance tonight.

Given the gulf between these teams’ records, the Wolves have had success against the Rockets this season. Their first meeting was one of the most brutal losses of the season for the Wolves, as they blew a double-digit lead in the final three minutes and lost in overtime, but in truth they outplayed the Rockets for 45 minutes that night. The Wolves took care of business in their second meeting in a 119-105 win.

Karl-Anthony Towns has averaged 32 and 17 in the two games against the Rockets, and will look for another dominating performance after he came alive in the second half last night against the Mavericks, while Andrew Wiggins will look to continue his scoring binge of the last few weeks. He’ll likely get the initial assignment on James Harden, who is one of the toughest covers in the league.

Meanwhile, the Rockets might be without one of their starters:

Given they have options like Eric Gordon and Lou Williams—both candidates for Sixth Man of the Year, I doubt the Rockets will take a risk with Beverley. That said, not having him out there will likely have a negative effect on their defense. Which is good for the Wolves, as they are going to have to score to keep up tonight.

I’m hoping for a fun one.

Expected Lineups

Rockets

Eric Gordon
James Harden
Trevor Ariza
Ryan Anderson
Nene Hilario

Wolves

Ricky Rubio
Brandon Rush
Andrew Wiggins
Gorgui Dieng
Karl-Anthony Towns

Our blogging buddies are over at The Dream Shake. Be excellent.

Enjoy. Chat. Go.