Rockets Pull Away Late, Beat Wolves 107-89

by Mark Remme
Web Editor

The Minnesota Timberwolves have been here before. Go into a game shorthanded, fight to stay in the game before slowly letting it slip away in the fourth quarter.

Just because they’ve been here before, doesn’t mean they’re used to it.

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Wolves vs. Rockets

The Wolves fell 107-89 to the Houston Rockets on Monday night at the Target Center, after fighting to stay in the game for the first three quarters.

“I thought our guys had great effort tonight,” said acting head coach Terry Porter, who filled in for Rick Adelman. “… Unfortunately for us, we just couldn’t make shots.”

The Wolves weren’t sure if they were going to have All-Star forward Kevin Love (quad) before the game. After the first quarter, the team was pretty glad they did. Love led the Wolves with 17 points in the opening quarter, and even with that, Minnesota still trailed the Rockets 34-28. The Rockets went on a 19-8 run and took a 30-18 lead with 2:33 left in the first. Thanks to 12 straight points from Love, the Wolves were able to creep back in.

The Wolves stuck around in the second quarter as well, trailing 36-34 after a J.J. Barea layup. That capped off a 6-0 run from the Wolves. It was a big quarter for Alexey Shved, who finished with eight points in the quarter. James Harden came up clutch, though, sinking a 3-pointer at the end of half to give the Rockets a 67-58 lead.

“I mean, we all know who he is,” said Ronny Turiaf about Harden. “… He’s so aggressive, that’s why he’s an All-Star.”

At the break, Love led all scorers with 23 points. Four starters for the Rockets hit double-digits in the scoring department with Harden leading the way with 15, going 3-of-4 from the 3-point line. The Rockets shot a scorching 54.5 percent at the break, compared to Minnesota’s mark of 43.3 percent.

Minnesota started the third on a 6-0 run, but the Rockets answered right back with a 12-0 run of their own, putting them up 79-64, their biggest lead of the night. The Wolves continued to fight back, though. After a Luc Mbah a Moute dunk (led by a great pass from Rubio) and a jumper from Love, the Wolves trailed just 82-78 going into the fourth.

The fourth quarter for the Wolves was an offensive nightmare as the team scored just 11 points in the quarter. Minnesota was outscored by 14 points in the final quarter.

“Missed shots. I thought for the most part we had stretches where we got quality possessions, they weren’t empty possessions,” Porter said. “… It’s just one of those nights and you have those types of nights in this league.”

Love led all scorers with 31 points to go with 10 rebounds. Budinger had 15 points in his first game against his former team. Shved led the second unit with 11 points, while Mbah a Moute added 10, shooting 5-of-6 from the field. The Wolves shot 35.6 percent from the field and 24 percent from the field. The Wolves ended up perfect from the free-throw line, going 21-of-21.

Chandler Parsons led Houston with 20 points. Harden chipped in 19, while Dwight Howard had 18 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Patrick Beverley and Terrence Jones had 14 points each. The Rockets shot 11-of-27 from the 3-point line.

The Wolves now sit at 24-28 overall.

Leader of the Pack: Kevin Love

For a guy who didn’t know whether or not he’d play, Love’s performance on Monday night was pretty impressive. Love finished with 31 points and 10 rebounds, good for his league-leading 12th 30/10 game of the season. He was 12-of-12 from the free-throw line and also added a steal.

Highlight of the Night

With six minutes left in the first half, Shved (the masked man), drove the lane and threw down a crazy dunk over a much bigger Terrence Jones. The dunk got plenty of love at the Target Center and over the social media waves.

The Numbers Game

  • With his free throw at the 3:44 mark of the first quarter, Love passed Doug West (6,216 points) for fourth on the team’s all-time scoring list.
  • The Wolves and Rockets closed out the first half making 25 straight free throws. On the night, the Wolves were a perfect 21-for-21. The Rockets were 18-for-20.

  • Postgame Podcast

    Rockets 107, Wolves 89

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  • The Rockets’ 67 points in the first half was a first-half high allowed by the Wolves this season.
  • Houston has now won nine of its last 11 games and six straight.
  • Quotable

    “We’ve just got to keep pushing. Regardless of if we feel it or not, we got to keep pushing. And that’s what basketball is about. You have tough stretches like that, you give in or you just keep your head above water… WE know at the end of the day, things need to turn around eventually.” — Wolves center Ronny Turiaf on whether or not the team is beat up mentally.

    Next Up

    The Wolves have just one game left before the All-Star Break. Minnesota hosts the Denver Nuggets at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. The game will be aired on Fox Sports North and WCCO 830-AM.

    For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.