Final: GameDay LIVE Blog - Wolves 112, Rockets 110
Final: What a game! The Wolves won their 40th game of the year thanks to 51 from Corey Brewer and a huge, huge jumper from Gorgui Dieng with 4.6 left on the clock. The Wolves forced a loose ball as the Rockets brought it up court to try for a game-winner. Excellent game, excellent atmosphere here at Target Center. Brewer tied Love for the franchise record with 51 points in a game. Gorgui had 12 points and 20 rebounds, and Rubio had 16 points and 10 assists. What a game. More to come on Timberwolves.com. MIN 112, HOU 110
Q4 19.9: What a ballgame, folks. Brewer has 51. Rubio just hit a pair of free throws and the Wolves lead 110-107. MIN 110, HOU 107
Q4 1:00: Corey Brewer just tied Kevin Love for the franchise's most points in a game with 51. He's got the record in regulation outright since it took Love 2 overtimes to do it in OKC a couple years ago. And Rubio just took a huge charge on Parsons in transition to give Minnesota the ball back with a minute left. MIN 105, HOU 103
Q4 2:42: Corey Brewer has 49 points right now to go along with six steals. He, along with Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson and Clyde Drexler are the only players in the last 25 seasons with 45 points and six steals in a game, according to ESPN Stats. He's now just three away from setting a new faranchise record. MIN 103, HOU 98
Q4 6:24: Corey Brewer has 44 points and is headed to the line for two more after this break. And the Wolves have leaped ahead in this horse race and lead by four with 6:24 to play. It's not out of the question that Brewer could hit 50 or even break Kevin Love's franchise record of 51 points in a game. I'm excited to see where he ends up. He's played a sensational game tonight. MIN 93, MIN 89
Q4 9:19: Corey Brewer just went over the 40-point plateau tonight with a pair of free throws. He's 16-of-25 from the field, and it's been such a much-needed offensive outburst with Love, Pek, K-Mart, Budinger and Shabazz out. The question now is: How many will he end up with? HOU 87, MIN 86
End Q3: So riddle me this. Last year, these same Rockets came in here and were in a tight game heading me into the fourth. That's when Chris Johnson and Mickael Gelabale took over, scoring the first 23 Wolves points of the fourth and willing Minnesota to win--in their first games of a preliminary 10-day contract, no less. Will we have that type of heroics tonight against Houston. I'd love to see it. Those MVP chants for Chris Johnson at the free-throw line were awesome. Back to the present, and the Wolves trail by two with 12 minutes left led by Brewer's 36. Will he go for 40 tonight? HOU 84, MIN 82
Q3 5:56: The Wolves just rallied off a quick 11-4 run and took a 76-70 lead here midway through the third. They're competing, folks, against a really tough Rockets team with a lot to play for. We'll see if they can hold them off over the final 18 minutes down so many players to injury. Brewer has 30 points on 13-of-19 shooting, and Cunningham has 14 of his own. Gorgui Dieng has eight points, 13 boards and a pair of blocks. Another nice outing for the rookie. MIN 76, HOU 70
Halftime: Corey Brewer is doing some very, very good things on the court tonight. He just put up the most first-half points of his career with 26, capped off by a 47-footer that beat the buzzer at the end of the second. That took away a bit of momentum that Chandler Parsons took when he hit his 3-pointer seconds before. A four-point deficit is a lot better than a seven-point deficit, no question about that. Brewer is 11-of-15 from the field, while Rubio has 11 points and six assists nad Gorgui Dieng has six points and 12 rebounds. Parsons has 18, Harden has 15 and Jones has 10. HOU 63, MIN 59
Q2 8:53: Houston keeps chipping away, and it appears that early momentum has turned into the Rockets' favor as we get into the second quarter. James Harden has an efficient 12 points on 3-of-5 shooting (4-of-4 from the line), while Parsons has eight. Also 11 points on 5-of-11 shooting off the bench for Houston, while the Wolves' bench is 0-for-2 with two points. They'll need their reserves to help out here, but one of the keys off the bench is already in foul trouble. Ronny Turiaf picked up three fouls in three minutes. MIN 43, HOU 42
End Q1: Jeremy Lin did his best 2012 Jeremy Lin impression at the end of the first quarter there, beating the buzzer from 3-point range and bringing the Rockets to within seven at 39-32. Corey Brewer has 16 and Rubio has nine points/six assists. But the Wolves are starting to give up a few more opportunities and second-chance shots to the Rockets, and that's helping close the gap. Houston once trailed by 15 but cut that in half as they head into the second. MIN 39, HOU 32
Q1 5:22: The Wolves just got a big boost from Robbie Hummel, who hit his first 3-point attempt of the night. That put Minnesota up nine. Then, Corey Brewer drove and scored while drawing the foul, and his free throw made it 24-12. After a Rockets basket, Brewer scored and was fouled again as Minnesota now leads 26-14. MIN 26, HOU 14
Q1 8:12: Ricky Rubio's aggressive play throughout the past couple weeks and has been much more effective getting to the rim and scoring. He's doing it tonight, and quite frankly he has to. With Love, Martin, Pek, Chase and Shabazz out, the Wolves are missing the majority of their regular scoring. That's about 74 points per game. Rubio is 2-of-2 with four points, as is Corey Brewer, and it's going to be crucial that those two take advantage of their opportunitites throughout the night. MIN 13, HOU 8
Rockets: PG-Jeremy Lin, SG-James Harden, SF-Chandler Parsons, PF-Terrence Jones, C-Omer Asik
Wolves: PG-Ricky Rubio, SG-Corey Brewer, SF-Robbie Hummel, PF-Dante Cunningham, C-Gorgui Dieng
PREGAME 7:00 PM: I apologize for being a bit behind schedule tonight but we just wrapped up our Pre-Pregame Show on Timberwolves.com. Thanks to everyone who tuned in. It was a lot of fun, and we hope to do more of these in the future. Now back to business. Kevin Love is out tonight due to that hyperextended elbow from last game, but J.J. Barea is in tonight. Look for DC and Hummel to get into the starting lineup again tonight.
PREGAME 12:30 PM: A programming note for tonight: The Wolves/Rockets game will be on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM beginning at 7 PM. You can get all the pregame action on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM at 6:30, but tonight we will also be live-streaming a pre-pregame show on Timberwolves.com. Be sure to tune in on our website at 6 PM for our live show in-arena talking about tonight’s matchup as well as what you can find inside Target Center on game night. Don’t Miss A Moment.
One other thing, too. If you haven't watched our J.J. Barea "Chicks Dig The Layup" video, check it out now. It's worth a couple minutes of your time.
PREGAME 12:00 PM: Welcome to Target Center for tonight’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Houston Rockets. It’s the second to last home game of the season for the Wolves, and it once again features Minnesota taking on a team with a lot to gain or lose in the playoff standings based on how they finish up the regular season slate.
This Houston team currently sits fourth in the Western Conference, just 1.5 games behind the Clippers for third and 1.5 games ahead of the Blazers for fifth. If they stand pat or move up, they’ll have home court—one of the first goals the Rockets set this season. This is an exciting time for the league, especially in the West, because there are so many scenarios that could take place. Right now, the Rockets would face Portland in the first round with home court. That could flip-flop if the Blazers get hot. If the Rockets move up, they would face Golden State—currently in sixth. But the Warriors are only a game up on Phoenix and Dallas, so either one of those teams could end up in that sixth spot, too.
Things are about to get interesting.
“You’ve got to play somebody no matter what,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “We’ve got to take care of business and get that [home court]. But then it’s a matter of making a playoff run. A playoff run is not making the playoffs. It’s winning a series or two or three or whatever, as many as you can. That’s been our goal all year.”
In order to help that cause, the Rockets would love a victory in Minnesota tonight. But the Wolves are no easy out. They’ve won against Miami, Memphis and San Antonio over the past eight days—teams that had significant playoff scenarios on the line. And they’re doing it with aggressive, technically-sound play.
The Wolves are not a team that Houston can afford to take lightly, and the Rockets are approaching tonight with that mentality.
“They still have Rubio and Kevin Love, who can win them ball games,” James Harden said. “It’s going to be tough, especially on their home court. We’ve just got to get back to a win.”
The Wolves and Rockets will both be missing key players tonight: Minnesota will likely be without starters Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic, while Chase Budinger and Shabazz Muhammad are out for the year. For the Rockets, starters Patrick Beverley and Dwight Howard were both ruled out.
But that doesn’t mean the teams can’t put up points in bunches. Minnesota’s most recent strength has been their ability to work off of Rubio’s dribble penetration. He’s scoring at the rim with more efficiency than he was earlier in the year, and it’s opening up more opportunities for effective pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop situations.
McHale said he’s seen Rubio become more aggressive lately, and that’s a point of emphasis the Rockets will want to address tonight. Without Beverley, it will be a more difficult proposition.
Harden said early ball pressure will be key.
“If he gets in the paint, that’s when he’s effective and making everybody better,” Harden said. “He’s hitting bigs for dump off passes and hitting his wings for 3s. He’s making K-Love better. Kind of controlling him and containing him from the beginning of the game.”
Here are a few notes for tonight's game:
· The Wolves trail in the series 38-62, and are 23-28 at home. Houston has won the last four meeting in the series, including the three previous matchups this season by an average margin of 17 points.
· With a 39-39 record the Wolves have a chance to finish at .500 or above for the first time since the 2004-05 season (44-38).
· Kevin Love (1,908 points) passed Tony Campbell for 2nd place (1,903, 1989-90) for the most points by a Wolves player in a single season on Wednesday. He needs 79 points to tie Kevin Garnett (1,987, 2013-14) for 1st place.
· Gorgui Dieng has started 11 of the last 14 games, averaging 11.8 points, on 53.9% (62-for-115) shooting, and 10.9 rebounds. He recorded 22 points and 21 rebounds in the March 20 meeting at Houston.
· Love leads the NBA in double-doubles (62), 20/10 games (48), 30/10 games (19) and 20/10/5 games (24). He ranks 4th in scoring (25.8 ppg), 3rd in rebounding (12.5 rpg) and 4th in free throws made (482). Love is also averaging a career-high 4.3 assists -- the only other players to average 25+ points, 12+ rebounds and 4+ assists since the NBA/ABA merger in 1976 were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1977-78 and Charles Barkley in 1988-89 and 1992-93.
· Ricky Rubio ranks 2nd in the NBA in steals (2.40 spg) and 4th in assists (8.6 apg). He needs 17 more assists to tie Pooh Richardson (685, 1991-92) for 3rd place on the team’s single-season assists list.
· Rubio is averaging 16.6 points, on 46.4% (32-for-69) shooting, and 8.8 assists over his last five games, including recording two double-doubles.
· Corey Brewer has recorded 13 steals in the last three games, the first time in his career that he recorded 4+ steals in three consecutive games. He ranks 8th in the NBA with 1.77 steals per game. Brewer needs 16 more steals to tie Sam Mitchell (449) for 2nd place on the Wolves’ all-time steals list.
· Ronny Turiaf returned to action on March 2 after missing the previous 19 games with a right knee bone bruise, and is averaging 8.4 points, on 76.0% (19-for-25) shooting, and 6.2 rebounds in five games since.
· At 52-26, Houston is in 4th place in the Western Conference, 2.5 games behind the Clippers and 1.5 games ahead of Portland. The Rockets are 3-6 in their last nine road games.
· The Rockets rank 2nd in the NBA in scoring with 107.7 ppg and 4th in field goal percentage at 47.4%. They also rank 3rd in rebounding (45.4 rpg) and 3rd in blocks (5.68 bpg). Houston leads the league in free throw attempts (31.04/game) and makes (22.0), but is 29th in free throw percentage (70.9%).
· Individually, James Harden ranks 5th in scoring (25.3 ppg) and 9th in free throw percentage (86.5%). Dwight Howard is 4th in rebounding (12.3 rpg), 3rd in field goal percentage (59.0%) and 7th in blocks (1.81 bpg).
· James Harden has scored 25+ points in 10 of his last 11 games, averaging 29.1 points. 7.7 assists and 5.0 rebounds over this stretch, including shooting 47.0% from the field and 41.7% from three-point range.