Nick Johnson lifts Rockets over Timberwolves in OT


Our Minnesota Timberwolves played the best game they’ve played in quite some time against the Houston Rockets tonight, and although they didn’t win it, they showed a resiliency as a young team that I didn’t know they had in them.

After pretty much handing the Philadelphia 76ers their first win of the season in a heartless display on Wednesday night, the Wolves bounced back in a big way in the effort department tonight. Houston ballooned the lead in both the first and third quarters, and each time the Wolves managed to maintain their composure and claw their way back into the ball game.

For a moment, it even looked as if the Wolves were going to win after they went up 105-101 on Andrew Wiggins’ rebound put-back slam dunk that was hardly even contested by the Rockets. It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Wolves Nation, but for the few seconds that followed that easy dunk we actually had the chance to remember what success felt like. It was a cheerful, hopeful experience.

The moment was sweet, but it was fleeting. The Rockets bounced back to score the final four points of the quarter, tying the game on a pair of Donatas Motiejunas free throws. On the final play of the fourth, the Wolves ran a play for Chase Budinger, who came off a screen and missed a contested 20 foot jump shot.

James Harden fouled out late in the fourth after scoring 38 points, but the Wolves were unable to take advantage of his absence in the extra frame. The Wolves didn’t fold, giving good effort until the end, but the Rockets were able to control the extra session with a steady stream of passes to Motiejunas in the post and some clutch Jason Terry shooting.

Still the Wolves were right there until the end. Thad Young knotted the game at 110 with a smooth, spinning hook shot in the lane with 16 seconds left. It was only on rookie Nick Johnson’s driving layup with .8 seconds on the clock that our Wolves were put away for good.  We ran a play for Young in the final second, but he was unable to convert.

112-110 in favor of the Houston Rockets.

At this point the losses are really starting to pile up for our Wolves, but that’s to be expected with three starters out due to injury. After all the embarrassing displays in recent weeks, I guess it’s just kind of nice to see the Wolves hang tough and throw a few counter punches.

I don’t know, maybe we’re actually starting to grow up a little bit.

Quick Takes

  • Shabazz Muhammad making a case for himself. Another game, another impressive performance from Muhammad. ‘Bazz scored 20 points in 26 minutes tonight and once again brought the incredible energy to the court that our fans have come to expect. His play is starting to stand-out to the point where Flip should consider moving him into the starting five, which currently lacks any sort of guaranteed production. If Shabazz continues to bring it like this, then Flip is eventually going to have to make the switch.
  • Wiggins benched. If Bazzy gets promoted, could it be Wiggins who gets pushed to the bench? Wiggins bounced back in the fourth quarter and overtime, but his play in the first half was uninspiring at best. His lack of effort was evident, prompting Saunders to bench him in the second quarter. Wiggins finished the game with 11 points, and made some key plays in the final quarter, but if he continues to drift for minutes at a time he might end up riding the pine at tip off. I’m sure ‘Bazz wouldn’t mind.
  • Corey Brewer running the point guard. Without Mo Williams tonight, Brewer knew going in that he’d see spot minutes at the point to relieve rookie Zach LaVine. He clearly wasn’t too happy about it, however, as his usually cheerful disposition left him as soon as LaVine got in foul trouble early in the first quarter. Brewer’s definitely not a natural, but he managed to get through the night without making any embarrassing mistakes, and he stuffed the stat sheet along the way: 15 points, seven boards, six assists, three blocks, and two steals.