Houston Rockets 107, Minnesota Timberwolves 89: Balanced attack and defense leads to 6th win in a row

All of the Rockets starters went for double digits in a relatively easy win on the road.  The Rockets had a bad end of the third quarter and let the Wolves back to within 4.  It was 81 to 66 with 5:18 left in the third, and the Wolves went on a 12 to 1 run to end the quarter.  It was looking like our old Rockets issue of giving up leads until the Rockets outscored the Wolves 25 to 11 in the final quarter.

Give it up for the Rockets defense!  When’s the last time we talked positively about the D?  They were on an offensive roll in the first half with 67 points, but it was the defense that won the game, as the Rockets only scored 40 in the second half.  Patrick Beverley played a great game against Rubio.  He had 3 steals and was a disruptive force for much of the game, ending with a +/- of +20 and hit 4 threes.

The Rockets held the Wolves to 35% from the field and 24% from behind the line.  The Wolves looked tired without Martin and Pekovic. That’s 37 points missing from the starting lineup for the Wolves.  Jones held Love to 9 of 23 from the field and even though he got 31 points, he couldn’t make up for all the points the Wolves left on the injury report.  Jones also went for 14, going 7 for 11 from the field.

The Rockets are looking closer to whole as Garcia came back from his injury with 12 minutes and a couple of nice threes.  Omer Asik also was back, playing in his second game, and got 6 boards in only 10 minutes on the floor.  He’s looking really out of shape as he can barely run the floor, and his first free throw barely edged the front of the rim.  As a rim protector and a rebounder, the Rockets fans are eager for him to return to last years form for the post all star run.  He was a +/- of -10 though.  Compare that to Howard’s +27 and 18 points with 15 boards.

I’ve been seeing some calls in the national media for Howard to be considered for the Defensive MVP lately.  There aren’t many bigs that can match Howard’s play, and tonight Turiaf was overwhelmed.  Howard is really anchoring the middle for Houston and is worthy to be in the conversation for that Defensive MVP honor.  After a tough year in LA, Howard definitely made the right call to sign with Houston.

The Rockets continue to struggle with turnovers, posting 17  tonight and Howard led the Rockets with 6.  They are 27th in the league in turnovers and any progress in that department will pay dividends in holding leads and winning close games.

The Timberwolves are now 6 and a half games out of the 8th seed in the West and look to be in freefall.  While the Rockets are only 2 games back from the second seed in the West.  Though they are clearly not in the elite tier of the NBA, the Rockets are edging closer.  This stretch of games is playing to their advantage as they can get some easier wins under their belt nearing the homestretch.  A win against the Wizards would give the Rockets some momentum and put them on a 7 game win streak going into the All Star break.

 

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Total comments: 10
  • Alituro says 7 months ago

    Went over to b-ball reference and checked out the Wolves' Page

    First, near the top is a green and red flow chart showing their margin of victory/loss this season--it shows exactly what you thought, Alituro. Lots of blowout wins.

    Looking around, there were a few things that stuck out.

    1. Rubio's TOV% is 22.6. That means nearly 1-4 possessions he is turning the ball over. Not good.

    2. The team is just terrible at shooting. It's not just Rubio. They rank 26th in the league and shoot .435 as a team. Combine that with their 30th ranked opp fg% of .469 and 28th ranked opp. eFG% of .515 (compared to their .477) and it adds up to a poor record.

    Thanks for the info! Looking at that chart, they do have some strange numbers. 2nd in the league in FGA and 26th in FG%. So, basically they play a high octane, all offense game, they're just not as good at it as they oughtwould like to be. In the close games, in the 4th quarter when defenses lock down they are unable to respond. Does Love not have that killer instinct to take a game over when it matters most? Why did he only get (5) touches in the 4th quarter? He's a tremendous player and is putting up MVP numbers, but what does it matter if it doesn't result in wins? Is this a guy who we would want to chase down aggressively this summer, or at all? I would bet Morey's stats guys tell a different story than what we can see in a simple box score. It took him 23 tries and a perfect 12-12 FT shooting night to get his 31 points. Zero factor in the 4th quarter.

  • thejohnnygold says 7 months ago

    Went over to b-ball reference and checked out the Wolves' Page

    First, near the top is a green and red flow chart showing their margin of victory/loss this season--it shows exactly what you thought, Alituro. Lots of blowout wins.

    Looking around, there were a few things that stuck out.

    1. Rubio's TOV% is 22.6. That means nearly 1-4 possessions he is turning the ball over. Not good.

    2. The team is just terrible at shooting. It's not just Rubio. They rank 26th in the league and shoot .435 as a team. Combine that with their 30th ranked opp fg% of .469 and 28th ranked opp. eFG% of .515 (compared to their .477) and it adds up to a poor record.

  • Bigtkirk says 7 months ago

    That's a good point about Rubio, whose shooting has not improved much. Love, Martin and Pekovic are their main scorers and they struggle somewhat offensively when any of those are down.

  • Cooper says 7 months ago They needed Rubio to be their number 2 scorer and he just can't shoot at all. So at the end of games you just have to worry about love and he's not all that hard to guard since he doesn't have great ball handling skills.
  • Alituro says 7 months ago

    I think part of the reason the Timberwolves struggle is lack of balance. Love (11.35 WP) and Rubio (7.25) are very good and Pekovic (4.25 WP) is pretty good, too. But then they fall off to Martin at 2.35 WP and less after that.

    While having no one as dominant as Love, the Rockets, on the other hand, have three players with 6 WP (Howard, Parsons and Harden) and another at 5.28 WP (Jones).

    Although I have not watched a lot of their games, my sense is that the Wolves really struggle when Love is out of the game. Much more than the Rockets do when they don't have Harden.

    Makes sense as to why they struggle. I'm trying to wrap my mind around why statistically they look so much better than their record shows. All I can think of is an inability to close out tight games.

  • Bigtkirk says 7 months ago

    I think part of the reason the Timberwolves struggle is lack of balance. Love (11.35 WP) and Rubio (7.25) are very good and Pekovic (4.25 WP) is pretty good, too. But then they fall off to Martin at 2.35 WP and less after that.

    While having no one as dominant as Love, the Rockets, on the other hand, have three players with 6 WP (Howard, Parsons and Harden) and another at 5.28 WP (Jones).

    Although I have not watched a lot of their games, my sense is that the Wolves really struggle when Love is out of the game. Much more than the Rockets do when they don't have Harden.

  • Alituro says 7 months ago

    The Timberwolves are a big mystery to me. According to Hollinger they rank 10th in the league with a positive margin of +3.29. However they have a losing record clocking in at 18th best in the league. What gives? How does their positive production not lead to positive win totals which goes against pretty much a consistent correlation league-wide? The only way it seems possible, to me, is if, in the games they win, they dominate and win running away, but they have trouble closing out close games, and the games they lose, aren't by a wide margin. How is that possible with one of the most dominant post guys in the league in Kevin Love and a super young gunner in Rubio feeding him? Does Love disappear late in games? Last night we started the 4th quarter with only a 4 point lead. Love didn't check in until 8:43 left and we extended the lead to 9 at that point. He got his first shot of the quarter at 7:08 and missed that field goal. Followed with a D-rebound then an o-Rebound (why no put back?), then had it stolen by Beverley at 6:28. Next touches: 4:41(miss), 3:21(miss), 2:55(miss), and then finally he gets his first FG of the quarter with 2:23 left and at that point the game was over, we were up 100-87. He didn't exactly have lock-down defenders on him in Jones and D-mo either.

    Everybody has off games, but that wasn't one, he had 31 points (granted it was 9-23) and 10 rebounds. I just think Minny's record, coupled with a bizarre positive scoring margin points to something imminently wrong with the team. Love is a terrific player but is he clutch material?

  • redfaithful says 7 months ago

    FT% of both teams also interesting stat.

  • Bigtkirk says 7 months ago

    Nice to see the balance in performance from the key players.

    Interesting stat of the night - Jones in 29 minutes had as many rebounds as we did.

  • 08huangj says 7 months ago

    Nice post. I have a feeling that Houston will be 2nd seed going into the playoffs. Should be a easy home win against the plucky Wizards side.