Despite Kyle Lowry's usual brilliance and Kevin Martin's excellent shooting in the first half, this game may have turned on one important factor: coaching. Kevin McHale has drawn mixed reviews in his brief tenure, but tonight he may have out-coached future Hall of Famer Rick Adelman.
When the team was still in their typical state of malaise coming out of halftime, the Timberwolves took advantage and turned a 7 point deficit into a 5 point lead. Truly, the Timberwolves looked in control. Ricky Rubio was dishing assists behind his back, Kevin Love was knocking down uncontested three after uncontested three, and even Luke Ridnour managed to get in on the fun.
Meanwhile, the Rockets played volleyball in front of their basket to no avail. Instead of throwing his hands up and moping on the sideline like Von Wafer might do, McHale put on his try-hard pants and came up with a solution: he would summon the Dragon.
And as he has been liable to do in the past, Dragic led an impressive 19-1 run that put the Rockets in control for the rest of the game. He may not know how to run a half-court offense, but he put on a show tonight, pushing the ball and hitting tough shots in the paint. We can all wish that Dragic could have brought his 2011 shooting to 2012, but the version of him that showed up tonight was more than adequate.
Dragic wasn't alone in this dominant run; the small lineup of Dragic, Lee, Lowry, Parsons and Patterson (and later even smaller with Martin playing the "4") took apart the lackadaisical Timberwolves defense.
From there, Kyle Lowry messed around and got his triple-double, Kevin Martin padded his scoring stats, and Samuel Dalembert lounged on the bench and rested up. All was well in Rockets land. Well, except that Jordan Hill still sucks.
Patrick Patterson is beginning to have more good games than bad, still lacking the consistent "hops" he showed us his rookie year, but showing a slowly improving offensive game. If he develops his post game and gets tougher on the defensive glass, he'll be right back on the path to a starter role that we predicted last season.
On the other hand, Jordan Hill made no case for the Rockets to pick up his 2012-13 option. Remember when we wondered which young big man had a brighter future? Perhaps sticking Hill on a 350 lb monster wasn't the most prudent course of action, but Hill seemed completely lost once again. The Rockets have to give him some minutes unless they want to play extremely small with the bench group, but the front office'd best hope that this play is just a symptom of a player recovering from the flu. Wowza.
Also, I need to give Chandler Parsons a special shout out for tip dunking in a miss after a foul. I know that describing white guys as "high motor players" is just lazy scouting, but he is the definition of a high motor guy. Now, he just has to get a buzz cut and the general population will respect him about 40 times more.
In all seriousness, tonight was an enormous win for the Rockets. The Rockets' weaknesses were exposed once again, with a stretch four killing us and the team unable to score for six minutes, but to go on the road and beat a talented team like Minnesota is an accomplishment worth noting. With a cushy schedule to come, there's no reason why we can't keep this