By: Brandon Rowe (Timberwolves Beat Writer for Sports Media Plus)
The Rockets downed the Timberwolves Sunday night, 104-101. James Harden dropped 44 while Jimmy Butler AND Karl Anthony-Towns combine for only 21. The Timberwolves had the game in their hands while for the most part it was back and forth. The Rockets are the best 3-point shooting team in the NBA. They’ve torched teams all year long and they truly live and die by the 3 pointer. However, that didn’t seem to be the case Sunday night. They only shot 10 of 37 and when the Rockets don’t shoot well from three, the games tend to be closer. Lucky for the Rockets, the Beard had himself a night. Adding to his already impressive point total, he dished out 8 assists. Almost all of the assists felt like they went to Rockets center, Clint Capela. Capela had 24 points, 12 boards, and 3 blocks. One of those blocks coming in a crucial moment before halftime. Capela blocked Towns not allowing the Wolves to get any points before the half. Although the Wolves struggled before half, they came out of the locker room going on a 16-6 run.
Out of Harden’s 44 points, 25 of those came after five minutes were left in the fourth quarter. With Towns being one of the best inside-outside beasts in the game today, you would expect the T-Wolves to use him to his fullest potential. That wasn’t the case last night. KAT only took nine shots making 3 of them for a total of 8 points. He did what he could on the glass grabbing 12 rebounds (Team Leading) but you would expect more from someone like KAT. They were double teaming him for what felt like the entire game and when they weren’t, they were exposed. He had multiple opportunities to score due to mismatches on the offensive side. One time in the second quarter, Trevor Ariza was on Towns. You would expect that every time, he would get the ball and just bully Ariza in the paint but the Wolves ball handlers couldn’t find him.
Derrick Rose played his best game as a Timberwolf dropping 16 points on 50% shooting with 2 boards and 4 assists. In order for the Wolves to tie the series up on Wednesday they have to find a way to expose the mismatches with KAT. Jimmy Butler has to have more of an impact on the game. They need to keep using D Rose as they were last night because he can work the Rockets bench. Lastly, keep Chris Paul from having a huge impact on the game. I believe that is why the game was so close because Paul had more turnovers than assists and didn’t have that much of an impact on the game.