It was an energetic and entertaining game at Target Center tonight, but the Rockets were in control most of the way and finished off a 131-124 win. The Wolves fought the whole night, but the Rockets looked like the big brother holding them at arms length while the Wolves struggled to connect.
It started early, after Karl-Anthony Towns picked up his second foul in the first quarter. Without Towns in the game, the Rockets took control and ran out to a 10 point lead after one. While the Wolves would fight to keep it close, and in fact took a brief lead in the third quarter, the Rockets led most of the rest of the way, as the Wolves could not put together enough stops to wrest control of the game.
This was true even while the Wolves held James Harden to a shocking 11 points on 3-13 shooting. That’s not going to happen very often, but unfortunately the Wolves could not take advantage. Because while Harden was struggling, Russell Westbrook was having his biggest game of the season. Westbrook did not attempt a three tonight, rather he relentlessly attacked the rim, and the Wolves had no answers. He scored a season high 45 points and lived in the paint and at the line, where he made all 13 of his attempts.
Towns led the Wolves with 30 points and 12 rebounds, and did a good job contesting shots around the rim especially in the first half. He worked incredibly hard all night, despite having to sit a couple of times in the first half with foul trouble. He was forced to leave the game with an apparent injury in the third quarter after diving for a loose ball, but was able to return in the fourth and looked none the worse for wear.
Andrew Wiggins was pretty sleepy through three quarters, but came alive in the fourth, scoring 17 of his 28 total points. He dragged the Wolves back into the game in the first part of the fourth quarter, but the Wolves had dug themselves too big a hole and the Rockets are just too good. Westbrook returned and started putting pressure on the rim. and ultimately they stretched the lead back out and cruised in for a win.
At least we got this:
It was a fun game to watch tonight, but fun or not, it’s the Wolves eighth straight loss. They are back at it Saturday night against the Thunder.
Let’s hit a few notes:
- Josh Okogie got the start in place of Jarrett Culver, likely for the defensive match ups, and had a terrific game, scoring 17 on 6-9 shooting, adding six boards, four assists and three steals. He was a menace in transition, and basically reminded us what good Okogie looks like. He also had some big defensive moments tonight.
- The Wolves had 13 offensive boards to the Rockets four, but had trouble converting them into second chance points.
- Meanwhile, the Wolves struggled with turnovers, finishing with 17.
- I hesitate to heap too much praise for the effort, since really that shoud be there every night, but it was a lot better than that debaole in Chicago.