The Timberwolves had a chance for a winning road trip with a win in Houston on Friday night, but James Harden and the Rockets were too much.
Minnesota fell behind by as many as 13 points early in the first quarter but played well for much of the rest of the game before the Rockets pulled away in the final minutes.
It was a sloppy, up-and-down game that saw the home team launch 29 three-pointers (yes, the Wolves only shot 16) and commit 17 turnovers, including nine from Harden.
The Rockets jumped out to an early double-digit lead before the Wolves bench entered and actually drew the visitors a bit closer. Then, the starters took over and got Minnesota to within just two points at halftime.
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The Wolves did a good job early guarding Harden and making Dwight Howard work in the post. Greg Smith was very physical with the Rockets’ big man in the second quarter, but curiously did see the floor at all in the second half.
The Rockets, for their part, were trapping the Wolves point guards on the side of the floor outside the arc, leading to a few Minnesota turnovers. By and large, however, it seemed to be a minor annoyance for Ricky Rubio and Tyus Jones, and they did a good job breaking the pseudo-trap.
When the Wolves drew to within one possession in the fourth quarter, the Rockets were seemingly always able to push their lead back to two or even three buckets. Andrew Wiggins struggled to pull down a couple of key rebounds and then committed a pair of ugly turnovers in broken floor situations that more or less ended the game.
Overall, the Wolves had a number of solid offensive performances in the game, but the defense and rebounding were far too shoddy to defeat a likely playoff team.
Tweets of the Night
Star of the Night
Karl-Anthony Towns -“ 32 points (13-22 FG, 0-2 3P, 6-7 FT), 11 rebounds, 2 steals, one block, one assist, one turnover
Towns once again scored in a variety of ways, including a pair of second half floaters in the lane — shots that no seven-footer should be able to pull off. He also did a good job helping to check Howard, as Dwight only managed 10 points and 11 rebounds on the evening.
Notable Timberwolves Lines
Andrew Wiggins – 21 points (8-12 FG, 1-2 3P, 4-4 FT), 5 assists, 2 rebounds, 3 steals, 4 turnovers
Ricky Rubio – 14 points (6-9 FG, 1-4 3P, 1-1 FT), 6 assists, 3 rebounds, one block, 5 turnovers
The Wolves will get the weekend off once again and head home to Minnesota after being gone for a week. Then, on Monday night, the champs are in town.
That’s right, the 62-6 Golden State Warriors will be visiting Target Center, needing only to finish the year with a 10-4 record to tie the Chicago Bulls’ all-time single-season win-loss record, with two of those games against the Wolves.