Third Quarter Dooms Wolves in Game 4

This game opened with sloppy play by both teams, and neither squad shot the ball particularly well. The period was highlighted by several great defensive stands by Andrew Wiggins isolated on James Harden, who was held to two points in the period, both of which came from the line. However, highlights on the other side of the ball were few and far between. The two teams were tied up at 21 headed into the second.

The Wolves offense broke out a bit in the second quarter. They were paced by Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose, both of whom used their aggressiveness and strength to get to the rim and score, as well as to collapse the defense and find their teammates for open looks. Jamal Crawford did good work as well, scoring seven points in eight minutes off the bench.

In the first half of play, Karl-Anthony Towns continued to build on his progress from Game 3, scoring nine points and adding eight rebounds in the half. None of those points came easy. Throughout the entire half, both the Rockets and the Wolves had to fight for every single bucket. The Wolves actually shot the ball better than the Rockets (48 percent to 38 percent), but turned the ball over six more times and hit four fewer three-pointers. The game stayed close, and the Target Center crowd stayed with their team every step of the way. The Rockets led by one at the half, 49-50.

The third quarter is when things got out of hand. The Wolves couldn’t buy a bucket, and Harden took over. Houston jumped out to a quick 12-point lead before the Wolves could answer, and built upon their hot start en route to a 50-point quarter.

The Wolves offense rebounded a bit in the second half of the quarter, scoring 20 in the period, but obviously, facing such an incredible offensive performance by the Rockets, there wasn’t much the Wolves could do to stay with them. The Rockets led 100-69 going into the fourth.

Minnesota played better in the fourth, but couldn’t erase the 31-point deficit. The Wolves took a disappointing loss, with a final score of 119-110. Harden led the way for the Rockets, scoring 36points. On the Wolves side, Towns had 22 points and 15 rebounds, and Butler finished with 19.

The Wolves still have life, but will need to win Game 5 in Houston to keep their postseason run alive. There’s no way to slice it, this one hurts, but Wolves fans will have at least one more opportunity to cheer their team to victory. All eyes will be turned towards Houston on Wednesday, and the Wolves will need to deliver with their season on the line.