Timberwolves Erase 19 Point Deficit, Stun Rockets At Home 103-91
The Minnesota Timberwolves were up against their Achilles heel in the Houston Rockets Monday night at the Target Center. They’re the same Rockets team that beat the Timberwolves in five games in the Timberwolves first playoff appearance in 14 years. Houston plays a 3-point heavy offensive scheme and the Timberwolves have been notoriously bad at stopping it. Ever since the Jimmy Butler trade it seems that the Timberwolves have flipped the script on that.
The Timberwolves have been 7-3 since the trade going into Monday night’s game.They are getting closer to being in the playoff hunt with an 11-12 record. They were wearing their retro early 2000’s black alternative jersey’s with the tree outlines for the game. The Last time the Timberwolves wore those jerseys was when Derrick Rose dropped 50 points and got a big win against the Utah Jazz
The Rockets themselves have been struggling this year going into the game. With an 11-11 record they are far behind where they were last year. All star point guard Chris Paul has been in and out with injuries, so that has taken a hit to them.
The game started out fine for the Timberwolves. They were matching anything that Houston was throwing at them. It wasn’t the prettiest sight, but the Timberwolves fans couldn’t complain too much considering that is best case scenario for them.
James Harden was getting the the free throw line at will, shooting 10-13 from the line. Most of those came in the first quarter and a half of the game. Rising big man Clint Capela was also doing work in the paint for the Rockets by throwing dunk after dunk. He finished the night with 24 points and 8 rebounds. Luckily for the Timberwolves they were still tied with the Rockets 24-24 after the first quarter.
The second quarter came around and the 3 point barrage threat of Houston’s clicked. The Timberwolves players were running all around switching at the 3 point line, which led to easy layups and dunks.
The offense was sluggish for the Timberwolves. Their biggest offensive threat, Karl-Anthony Towns, was in foul trouble in the first half, and it took a big hit to the squad. With the troubled offense, the Rockets took advantage and built a 19 point lead at one point.
Within the last 2 minutes of the half though, the Timberwolves went on a mini run and finished it with a half court buzzer beater made by Andrew Wiggins. They were able to cut the lead to 14 by halftime with a score of 62-48.
Second Half Lift-Off
The Timberwolves came out of the locker room with a revived attitude and energy. The Rockets had seem to place their cruise control on a little too early and the Timberwolves took advantage of it. Led by Robert Covington’s suffocating defense and return of Towns on offense gave them a resurgence. One thing that clicked for the Timberwolves in the second half was the three point shooting. There was a stretch where they hit four straight threes in a row and scored 10 times in 11 possessions.
Towns started to show his true offensive arsenal, going straight at Capela, who has always been a thorn in Towns’ paw since the playoffs last year. By the end of the third, the Timberwolves actually took the lead by four with a score of 86-82.
The fourth quarter came around and the Timberwolves defense delivered the finishing blow. The Rockets game plan of three point shooting and free throws were the death of them. Their free throw attempts went down in the second half. The Rockets shot 11-39 from deep which is just a lowly 28%. They held the Rockets to just 9 points in the fourth and only 29 points overall in the second half. Stopping the three pointers and free throws helped the Timberwolves erase a 19 point deficit to pull out with the win 103-91.
Stats Of The Night
Defense was the key to the night. When facing Houston it’s hard to win a shootout against them. In the first half they shot 66% from the field, but their second half shooting was so poor that it jumped down to 43% by the end of the game. Keeping the three point game down as well was huge. They kept Paul from being a factor by making him shoot 1-8 from the field.
Wiggins also made a rare showing of intense defense. He had a decent offensive game with 16 points and shooting 6-11 from the field, but contributed with a steal, and 3 emphatic blocks on the night. Towns was the high man in scoring for the Timberwolves, scoring 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Taj Gibson was big on the boards, also grabbing 11 rebounds, 7 of them being on the offensive glass.
They wrap up the long home stand against the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday. Afterwards, they start a west coast road trip against the Portland Trailblazers, Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, and it’ll end against the Phoenix Suns.
Now being 12-12 is possibly the best case scenario considering how the season has gone for the Timberwolves. This is the first big road trip with the new players, so it’s time to see if they can carry all of this energy from home and bring it on the road.
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