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No Quit In Wolves, Take Down Rockets Behind Energy And Effort

by Kyle Ratke, Digital Content Manager

Digital Content Manager

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When growing up in sports, phrases like “never give up!” or “you never know!” or “it’s not over until it’s over” are used quite often. 

These are meant to be lessons not only in sports but in life because most of us don’t grow up to be professional athletes.

Most often than not, people and teams do give up, though.

You do, in fact, know. 

And it’s over right when you thought it was over. 

But sometimes it’s not. 

Those phrases had a moment to flex on Monday night (as did youth coaches around the world). The Timberwolves trailed by 19 points against the Rockets at Target Center. Nothing was going right. The Wolves had three quick technical fouls, Karl-Anthony Towns was in foul trouble early and it just looked like a clunker that teams have throughout the season. It appeared as if this one was over.

But as you could have probably guessed from the title of this piece, it wasn’t. 

If you turned the TV off or left the arena at halftime, I would keep that to yourself.  

The Wolves stormed back behind their defense, energy and effort to win 103-91. 

It all started in the third quarter when the Wolves outscored the Rockets 38-20. A team like the Rockets, of course, can come back just like that. But they didn’t. Minnesota played smart offense and passionate defense to hold James Harden’s squad back. The Wolves outscored the Rockets 17-9 in the fourth quarter. 

Holding a team like the Rockets to nine points in a quarter, when they are desperate to score points, is ridiculous.

A few takeaways from the game:

  • Andrew Wiggins said at shootaround that he felt like he was going to bounce back from a mini slump. Boy, did he ever. Wiggins finished with 16 points, four rebounds, three blocks and a steal while shooting 6-for-11 from the field and 2-for-3 from the 3-point line. Those numbers might not seem wild, but his impact in this one certainly passed the eye test. Julian Andrews has more on him here.
  • Despite having three early fouls, Towns was a critical part of this game. It’s no secret that Towns struggled in the playoffs last season against Clint Capela. And you could tell early that Towns was trying to prove a point. But he settled in nicely in the second half and finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block.
  • The 38 points the Wolves scored in the third quarter was the highest-scoring third quarter of the season (thanks, Swanny!).  Six players did the damage for Minnesota. Towns finished with 10, Taj Gibson had six, Jeff Teague had six (two huge 3-pointers), Dario Saric had six, Robert Covington had five, as did Wiggins. The Wolves shot 7-for-10 from deep in the third 12-minute stretch of the game.
  • Speaking of Covington. I know we’ve talked over and over again about his defense, but that’s because it’s a very real thing. Covington might have the strongest hands in the NBA. Like how in the world is this possible? This looks like a glitch in a video game.

    My goodness gracious! Covs was solid offensively, finishing with 13 points shooting 4-for-seven from the field, but he did his damage defensively finishing with two blocks and two steals. I’m not sure if there’s been a better defensive player in the league over the last three weeks.

 To round out the scoring, Gibson finished with 15 points to go with 11 rebounds. Teague finished with 14 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Saric finished with 12 points, shooting 3-for-4 from deep.

Harden led Houston with 29 points and eight assists. Capela added 24 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Paul had himself a night to forget, finishing with as many points as assists – five. He shot just 1-for-8 from the field and 1-for-7 from deep. 

The Wolves move to 12-12 on the season, tied for ninth in the West. The Rockets fall to 11-12, tied for 12th.

Minnesota ends a four-game homestand on Wednesday against the Charlotte Hornets. You can get tickets here.