The Rockets blew open a close game in the third quarter, scoring 43 points and pouring in 10 threes in the period to take control on their way to a.....win over the Timberwolves in Houston. It was the Wolves first loss to the Rockets this season after winning the first two match ups, but the Rockets are rounding into form and the Wolves are stumbling toward the end of another difficult season.
It was a display of what the Rockets do and the Wolves do not defend: Three point shots were raining from everywhere for the Rockets, and the Wolves, who give up the highest three point percentage in the league, were remarkably absent guarding them. There was no urgency to close out and run them off the line, rather there was a lot of standing around hoping for misses that were not forthcoming, especially in the second half when the Rockets put the hammer down. Chris Paul led the way in the third, with four threes of his six overall for the game.
The other defensive issue for the Wolves is something we’ve also grown accustomed to: Transition. Clint Capela consistently beat the Wolves down the floor, leading to early offense and easy baskets for the Rockets. Capela scored 20 on his usual array of rim runs and lob finishes, and the Wolves had no answer.
Exacerbating the defensive problems was a poor shooting night for the Wolves. Karl-Anthony Towns, who has been on fire for weeks, finally had an off night shooting it, going 8-22 from the field and finishing with 22 points. He did have six assists on a nice array of passes, but opponents will take that every night from Towns, who struggled in the post against Capela and didn’t really have his jump shot going. Without Towns scoring efficiently, the Wolves just don’t have enough offense to stay with a team like the Rockets.
Andrew Wiggins had 11 at halftime, made a three early in the second half, and did not score again. Josh Okogie had one of his better scoring nights in some time, with 21 points, and seemed to find his legs again at both ends after a real struggle for the last few weeks, so he was a bright spot, but it wasn’t nearly enough to keep pace.
This was the Wolves eighth straight road loss, and it looks like they have shut things down for the season.
- Once again there was no Jeff Teague or Derrick Rose both out with injury.
- It was a disaster for Tyus Jones, who failed to score in 29 minutes.
- Keita Bates-Diop continues to look like he belongs, and was team leading +11 in his 17 minutes of play.
- The Rockets would no doubt love to hold off the Blazers for the third spot in the West, and they’ve been playing terrific ball as of late.
- Taj Gibson was excellent off the bench, with a 15-10 double-double.