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Wolves Go Into All-Star Break Riding High, Take Down Rockets In Front Of Energetic Crowd

by Kyle Ratke, Digital Content Manager

Digital Content Manager

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The Wolves put on an incredibly impressive performance on Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets at Target Center.

Minnesota won 121-111 against Houston. Certainly impressive considering the Rockets came in as the fourth-ranked team in the West having won four of their last five games. 

It’s impressive that the Wolves won, sure. But it was how the team won that has to have Wolves fans excited. Energy, effort and accountability.

Defensively, the Wolves (most notably Josh Okogie) were all over the place. And offensively, the team was moving the ball and wasn’t afraid to make the extra pass (the Wolves shot 54.4 percent from the field and 50 percent from the 3-point line).

This is a huge win for a team hoping to make a playoff run. Minnesota now goes into the All-Star break having won two-straight games. The Wolves are 27-30, 3.5 games back from the eighth seed.  

Here are a few observations from the game:

  • Okogie was the star of the game. He had an incredible stretch on both ends of the court in the third quarter and made huge stops on James Harden in the second half. This kid is going to be a stud defensively in this league for a long time. This was just a glimmer of that. Okogie finished with 16 points, four assists, two steals and a block in 32 minutes. That stat line doesn’t tell just how important Okogie was to the team’s success in this one.
  • The Dario Saric/Taj Gibson swap at power forward continues to pay off. Saric had 10 first-quarter points and ended the night with 15 points and eight rebounds, shooting 6-for-9 from the field and 2-for-2 from deep. Gibson was great off the bench, finishing with 10 points and eight rebounds, shooting 4-for-8 from the field. Credit Ryan Saunders for making a move that some coaches wouldn’t have made, especially right before a break. But he did and it’s helped result in back-to-back wins against two solid Western Conference teams.
  • Harden finished with 42 points, so yes, he’s now scored 30 or more points in 31-straight games. But the Wolves forced him into some tough looks and he only went to the free-throw line four times. For reference, his season average is 11.6 attempts per game. He also committed six of the game’s 19 turnovers.

The Wolves are now 2-0 against the Rockets this season, which is something they should certainly hold their heads high about.

We haven’t talked about Jeff Teague or Karl-Anthony Towns yet, which seems silly. Teague was maybe the most aggressive he’s been all season, finishing with a team-high 27 points to go with 12 assists. Towns was solid as well, finishing with 25 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two blocks. It’s sometimes easy to overlook what Towns does since he does it every night. And that’s exactly why he’ll be in Sunday’s All-Star Game. 

Luol Deng finished with 13 points and eight rebounds starting his second game for Andrew Wiggins (illness), and Derrick Rose led the bench with 12 points.  

The Wolves have a nice break, not playing again until Friday, Feb. 22 in New York. Hopefully the Wolves can carry this momentum into a sprint for the playoffs over the last two months of the season.