Leo Sun: I want to open by recognizing and acknowledging the horrific tragedies that occurred to Asian American communities here in California. The mass shootings that occurred in Monterey Park, CA and Half Moon Bay, CA are senseless acts of violence that have continued to devastate communities that I identify with. These are particularly sensitive considering this is usually our annual time of celebration for Lunar New Year.
Our communities are desperately in need of support as we try to recover from more and more suspected hate crimes. You can donate to support the families impacted in the Monterey Park incident here. We will share more opportunities to help as they come.
Please check on your friends, families, and loved ones...
It was bad.
The Houston Rockets came into the match having lost 13 straight games. They had lost the last 7 games to the Minnesota Timberwolves. In a cluster-muck of a playoff/play-in race in the Western Conference standings, Minnesota desperately need every single win they could muster with a hellacious schedule upcoming. They had just defeated the very same Rockets team 48 hours ago in Minneapolis, courtesy of a 44-point Anthony Edwards explosion.
The game looked lost from the tip. A quick 9-0 Houston run off five straight Minnesota misses looked to set the tone. It was not long before they fell behind by 12 points in the opening quarter. Luckily, D’Angelo Russell continued his hot shooting streak and helped guide the Wolves back to within 5 before the end of the first quarter. The Rockets did what a last place team would do, turning the ball over and letting their opponent get back in the game. The aforementioned Russell would pour in five first half triples to take and extend their first lead of the game 45-39.
That was the best part of the game.
From there, Jalen Green would lead the charge on offense with another tidal wave of perimeter buckets. The game appeared to remain in the balance at the half with both teams knotted up at 56 a piece with their shooting and rebounding numbers starting to equal out.
Then came the third quarter.
Though Minnesota had won a few third periods lately, we got the Wolves of old. Houston mostly remained the same mess that they were on offense, relying on hot shooting streaks to keep them alive despite reckless turnovers and mistakes. The Wolves looked unprepared to capitalize by showing poor shot selection and a generous helping of their own turnovers. All of a sudden, the Rockets found themselves up 90-81 heading into the final quarter. An early 8-0 run looked to breathe some life into the Wolves while Ant began to finally percolate midway through the fourth, but it was all for naught. Down 99-100, Minnesota would miss their next 7 field goal attempts. Sound familiar? The tanking Rockets team did their part to leave the door cracked open just slightly, but Green would hit a number of big shots on his way to a career-high 42 points that sealed the game. There were some silly late game shenanigans that stretched the game out due to intentional fouling and some Edwards desperation triples and Rudy dunks, but it was essentially just dragged along the inevitable. Another flat tire to derail any momentum that the Wolves had accumulated heading into this game.
There’s plenty of blame to go around for this one.
- Anthony Edwards’ team-high 31-points are a bit misleading, as 8 of them came in silly time. He had a tough whistle, but all too often drove into the lane without any plan other than to draw a foul, resulting in 5 turnovers (I’m not counting the bogus clutch time carry violation he was wrongly called for).
- Rudy Gobert looked super rusty as Houston dominated the offensive glass early. He was also less effective on Şengün and rotating situations compared to Nathan Knight late in the game.
- Naz Reid looked completely out of place off the bench, playing just 9 minutes which is about 9 more than he deserved tonight. He looked more like a fan watching the game as several Rockets took their turn rebounding over and around him.
- Kyle Anderson got into a heated back and forth with Jalen Green before being limited to 12 ineffective minutes due to foul trouble. He deserves most of the cred for gassing up Green into a career night.
- Jaden McDaniels could not hang with Green tonight either. He was ice cold from perimeter, making just one of six three point attempts, before he fouled out.
- Jaylen Nowell was absolutely terrible on both ends of the court, missing several shots, committing ugly turnovers, and watching Green parade around in a way that the box score cannot accurately reflect.
- Chris Finch allowed several of these things unfold due to poor lineup management, repeatedly shoving a square peg into a round hole.
Austin Rivers scores a layup down 5 with 3.1 remaining and poses.— Leo S (@Y0Leo) January 24, 2023
Ant to Rivers: "WHY YOU NOT SHOOT A 3, AR???"
Rivers gets annoyed by the comment.
Rivers to Ant: "We about to lose. We FUCKED AROUND and lost the game! We fucked around!!!" pic.twitter.com/71VL0yURmu
Yes. Yes, Austin Rivers. The Timberwolves did *expletive* around, indeed.
Canis Hoopus Comment of the Night
The Wolves will hop on a plane to visit the 4th place New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday 1/25 @ 7:00pm CT. NOLA will be on the end of a home-home, back-to-back situation, as they host the Nuggets on Tuesday. Minnesota lost 122-123 when they last played the Pels on December 28. Zion notched a career-high 43 points while Ant missed the potential game-winning mid-ranger. He did have this awesome clutch dunk though!