It appeared that the Minnesota Timberwolves were set up to pull of a very impressive win over the Houston Rockets on Friday night. Over the past year, the Wolves have owned the Rockets in the series, winning four of five previous to this one.
At halftime, the Wolves were up by 18 and had held Houston, the NBA‘s top scoring team, to a lousy 39 points. In just the first quarter alone, Houston allowed Minnesota to shoot an uncharacteristic 59 percent from the floor on 13 of 22 shooting. The Wolves’ front court, lacking Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic still, managed to go 7 of 9 from the field in the quarter as a part of that outburst.
James Harden said, regarding the first half, “we weren’t playing defense at all. We were relying on our offense so much in the first half that we weren’t making shots.” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said that while he normally gets frustrated when his guys play poorly, they made him mad tonight. Dishing out only eight assists on 15 field goals in the first half was very un-Houston-like.
In the second half, however, both Harden and point guard Jeremy Lin got it going. Both knocked down 3-pointers after McHale was whistled for a technical early in the third quarter, cutting the lead to nine. From there on out, it was all Rockets. Harden ended the game with 37 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds.
For the Wolves, it was all too familiar territory. They have consistently been a bottom feeder in the category of 3-point shooting, and they proved why tonight by shooting 6 of 24 from downtown. Shooting well overall from the field at 48 percent, you would think they had a decent game from long range. As it typically has been, this just wasn’t the case.
Like I’ve said before, I see changes coming in the off season for Minnesota. Most importantly, they need somebody that can create their own shot and take over a game when needed. If they don’t think Derrick Williams as that guy, I believe there are still great chances he gets traded.
What the Wolves need most is a swingman that can do this. When healthy, they are a fairly talented team in the front court and at the point guard position behind Ricky Rubio. But, if they want the opportunity to win games like this next season, it’s time to find the guy they can count on in crunch time.