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Wolves 107, Rockets 101: Unstoppable Rockets Meet Immovable Wolves

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The Wolves (and/or Rockets) hold Houston scoreless in final 7:31 of the game.

Houston Rockets v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Whew.

I had a scathing recap planned for tonight. I really did. You were about to be subjected to reading sentences on fake unicorns, basketballs full of piss, being C3 since Day 93, and many more uncreative disses. However I have Stephen Silas, Rafael Stone, and most importantly, John Wall, to thank for saving my position here at Canis Hoopus.

As Kyle Theige pointed out, this game was going to be a battle of the two worst teams in the NBA and boy, did it live up to that hype! What looked to be a spirited offensive showcase flea market in the first half quickly turned into perhaps the worst basketball ever played on planet Earth in the second half.

In the 3rd quarter, the Wolves “defense” had turned into rocket fuel for the team who had lost 20 of their last 21 games. Minnesota found themselves trailing 19 points courtesy of the Houston draining 15 out of 31 three-pointers. Karl-Anthony Towns, who had spent the better part of the first half complaining to the refs, somehow cranked his whining up to 11 in the 3rd. He was frustrated and the rest of his teammates didn’t seem like they would be able to bail him out either. Towns’ team looked about ready to lay down and lose by 20 points to the second worst team in the NBA. I also looked like I was about to lay my fist down through the TV.

Then came the 4th quarter.

In the first 4 minutes, although the deficit never quite ballooned up to 20, it still didn’t look like the Wolves were going to put up a fight. Then at the 7:47 mark, the game turned upside down. Anthony Edwards was subbed out of the game for Jaden “Big Mac” McDaniels and the Rockets never scored again.

No, really. That’s not a hyperbole. At 7:47, the Rockets were at 101 points. When the clock struck 0:00, they were still at 101 points. Meanwhile the Wolves went on a 20-0 run to end the game. How did this happen? John Wall took and missed 6 missed of the team’s last 11 field goal attempts while contributing 2 of the teams 3 turnovers in that time.

I really feel that on the Wolves side of things, credit really goes to 3 key players: KAT, Jaden McDaniels, and... Juancho Hernangomez. That’s right. The one player that Washington has been looking for in a Bradley Beal trade (%). KAT and Juancho combined for 20 points in the 4th quarter while Big Mac was locking things down defensively. It was a sight to behold. According to Dave Benz, the Wolves were unofficially 32-770 (3.99%) in games where they trailed by 10 points in the 4th quarter.

There were a few hilarious plays to end the game that I want to mention. After John Wall missed his 6th straight shot in the final minute of play, McDaniels found himself streaking down the court in a fastbreak 1-on-1 opportunity against Sterling Brown. Just as he tried to wiggle around Brown, he fell to the ground and looked at the ref for a foul call. However during that chaos, Coach Finch had smartly (and hilariously) called a timeout mid-break to save Jaden from himself. Why was it a good call? The Wolves were up 2 with 34.7 seconds left in the game and 20 on the shot clock.

In the ensuing possession, KAT found Ricky Rubio who absolutely smoked a wide open layup in typical fashion. I mean on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst Ricky Rubio layup he’s ever missed, it was probably a 9.5. Anyway, this gave the Rockets a transition opportunity to tie the game. Wall, who must I remind you just missed 6 shots in a row, would fumble the ball away and kick it out of bounds.

Game: Wolves.

Lottery odds: Uh oh...

Full game highlights:

Game notes

  • Prior to the 4th quarter, the only three players that really seemed to have a winning impact on the game was Jaylen Nowell (8/5/5 & 3 steals), Naz Reid (16/2/2 & 2 steals), and Jaden McDaniels (14/4 & 2 blocks, 100% FG). What will not be lost in this wash of a season are the gems that Gersson Rosas continues to unearth from out of nowhere.
  • Today was finally the return of Jordan McLaughlin. Unfortunately, though understandably, he looked extremely rusty out there. He finished with 2 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, 1 airball, and 20% shooting. Welcome back!
  • Jake Layman and Jarrett Culver were both out of the rotation today. I haven’t heard why, but they didn’t leave the bench today. Meanwhile, Malik Beasley should be returning to the court tomorrow!
  • It was a bit concerning sad to see Anthony Edwards completely unable to get going again. He looked timid attacking the paint and was jacking up bad shot after bad shot. He was rightfully benched at the end of the game, although Finch mentioned he was just going with what was working. After the final buzzer sounded, I saw Ant head towards the tunnel looking very down while Juancho gave him some words of advice. I didn’t interpret that as him upset with the win or being benched, but more upset with his own performance yet again. The 19-year-old will bounce back though.
  • The MPE goes to the former Pizza Guy, Ben McLemore. He made 6 of 6 three-pointers to start the game and looked like Steph Curry out there. He finished 7/14 and just 21 points.
  • I’m not a casual and I know how good Christian Wood was prior to today’s game. I even recall conversations about him here at Canis Hoopus when he went undrafted in 2015. However he still managed to surprise me with his performance tonight. KAT and Wood were going tit for tat early in the game, but it wasn’t long before Wood looked completely dominant over him in the 3rd. KAT is still amazing and was able to regain control in the 4th, though Wood finished with a formidable 24 points on 16 shots. I feel sorry he has to play with John Wall.
  • I finally had an opportunity to ask KAT about the increase of violence against the AAPI community. He had a heartfelt and well-thought out answer, as usual. It’s a timely reminder that we really got a good one on our team, no matter what happens on the court. I’m so proud to cover this young man.