Rockets Overcome 20 Point Deficit To Tame Timberwolves

USA TODAY Sports

The Rockets turn a dismal first half into a victory against Minnesota with a 69 point second half barrage led by James Harden and Jeremy Lin.

If Charles Dickens were scripting tonight’s Rockets game it would be A Tale of Two Halves: The Godfather vs. The Godfather II. Johnny Drama vs. Vincent Chase. Kate Middleton vs. Pippa Middleton.

Ok. I’m reaching.

The First Half:

Here’s the cut and dry post-game summary:

"The second half was a total opposite (of the first half)." James Harden

Tonight’s stats agree with the bearded one:

39 First Half Points -- 69 Second Half Points
15 First Half Turnovers -- 3 Second Half Turnovers
.385 First Half FG% -- .600 Second Half FG%
.294 First Half 3P% -- .428 Second Half 3P%

The turnover statistics tell the entire story of the first half. Fifteen first half turnovers cost the Rockets numerous shot attempts and fed an over-matched and undermanned Timberwolves team more possessions and shots than they deserved.

I’ll also admit it’s not fair to pick on the Rockets for playing below average defense. It’s like asking the Big Lebowski to be a complete member of society. But the first half Rockets showed little-lacking-absent-lackluster defensive effort.

James Harden called their first half "sluggish." I’d say Dikembe Mutombo played better defense in his new Geico commercials.

The Rockets trailed by 20 points at one point in the first half and were shooting below .400% from the field and below .300% from three.

The Second Half:

There’s no telling what happened in the Rockets locker room at halftime, but the Rockets played like a team possessed in the second half.

A flurry of three pointers straight out of the half ate at an 18 point halftime deficit and backed the T-Wolves up against the wall.

James Harden put the team on his back. Pre-game rumors about Harden’s sore foot left us wondering how many minutes he could give the Rockets tonight.

The answer: 43 minutes – 37 points – 7 rebounds – 8 assists

The Timberwolves had no answer for the beard tonight as evidenced by a late game attempt to match Ricky Rubio up against Harden on the defensive end. The Mop v. Beard match-up didn't suit Ricky well.

Jeremy Lin poured in an additional 24 points with a mix of spot up shooting and moves to the basket. He turned his court vision on in the second half and was able to find guys when it counted… or when the ball wasn't in Harden’s hands.

The Rockets deserve a ton of credit for tonight’s win. But the Timberwolves didn't do themselves any favors.

The undermanned T-Wolves absolutely exhausted themselves in the first half. The Rockets smelled blood in the water and outscored the T-Wolves by 26 in the second half.

The T-Wolves entered the game with only nine players in uniform. Their first half offense was powered by Greg Stiemsma and their tough loss required 31 minutes from both Derrick Williams and Mickael Gelabale.

Game Notes:

  • The Rockets set a new team record for three pointers in a season after a first half trey from Jeremy Lin. The old record was 705 in the 2006 – 2007 season. There’s a chance the Rockets will break the NBA record for threes in a season in the remaining 17 games.

  • Tonight was the largest Rockets comeback in Toyota Center history, 20 points. The last time the Rockets made up a 20 point deficit was 2002.

  • Every Rocket finished the game with a positive +/- (Thomas Robinson logged an even zero. I’ll count it).

  • Carlos Delfino set a season high with 10 rebounds.

  • James Harden has a chance to set the Rockets single-season record for free throws made. He’s at 541. The record is held by Moses Malone at 630.

  • Carlos Delfino never fully opened his eyes during this game… Oh, wait. That’s every game. Do your thing, Carlos.

  • Donatas Motiejunas scored zero first half points.

  • Patrick Beverley played 9 minutes. His only recorded statistics: 1 RB, 1 AST and 2 Fouls.

  • Aaron Brooks received a DNP.

What Tonight's Game Means:

Tonight the Rockets had no choice but to dig deep and win. Nine of the Rockets last sixteen games come against teams with winning records. It’s quite possible a playoff spot will come down to preying on over-matched teams like the Timberwolves.

The Rockets face the Suns and Kings twice each before the end of the year. The Rockets can’t afford many performances like tonight’s first half against teams with losing records. These are games the Rockets need to pick up.

Side Note: Anyone else feel like McHale’s technical foul in the third quarter with nine minutes left was his version of a mic drop?

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