The Rockets were up 13 with about five minutes left and I thought, "Get one stop and one score and the good guys can get out of here with a win."
Minnesota promptly went on a 22-5 run.
In a game that was fun, then nauseating, then fun again, then REALLY nauseating, the Rockets escaped Minnesota with a 114-112 win in their first overtime game of the year. Nick Johnson was the hero with the game-winning acrobatic lay-up with 0.8 seconds left.
There's a lot to talk about here, but I'm going to try to keep it brief (post-recap note: I failed). Minnesota was lacking point guards and a couple of bigs tonight so instead they essentially played four wings and Dieng for much of the game. This caused issues for Houston for large stretches, especially when Harden sat.
Let's talk about Harden. Um, Harden is amazing.
Aaaaaannnnnddd we're done talking about Harden.
James Harden: Okay, we'll talk about him some more. Wow. 38 points on 17 shots. He seemed to get whatever he wanted tonight and Minnesota, with all that length and all those wings still had to foul him to keep him scoring in even more ways. For long stretches in the second and third quarters, he was the offense. Not "he ran the offense." Literally, the offense was, "Hand the ball to James and go stand out of the way." Unfortunately, Harden fouled out with less than 3 minutes left in the fourth quarter and it seemed like Houston would not have enough offense to win.
Donatas Motiejunas: Donuts gets on the three up for 30 seconds of truly clutch play. For the other 47-and-a-half minutes tonight, Motiejunas looked like the old Donuts: passive, easy to get past on defense, and timid in every aspect of the game. But boy did he redeem himself. Down 4 with a minute left, here's what happened.
0:45 left: D-Mo right-handed hook over Gorgui Dieng (Rockets down 105-103)
0:27 left: Zach LaVine misses for the what had to have been the first time all night.
0:15 left: D-Mo draws a foul on Dieng and hits two clutch free throws to tie the game.
Other than that sequence, Donuts was 3-7 with four turnovers and 8 rebounds. In a game where Houston got killed on the boards. Like I said, he was pretty terrible. But when Houston needed points from somewhere with Harden out, he stepped up.
Jason Terry: That's the first time I've typed his name out this season. That's how good he was tonight. 19 points, 6 assists, and a number of great shots. I thought his 3-pointer in OT might be a potential dagger, but credit to Minnesota in the comeback. He also ran the offense late in regulation and all throughout OT and dished to Johnson for the winner instead of settling for a 20-footer. Last season, McHale probably puts the ball in the hands of Jeremy Lin or Chandler Parsons there. If the Rockets had lost, I'm sure those names would have been brought up to remind everyone that Houston lost two ball-handlers in the offseason. As it stands, we can continue remembering that those guys probably lose this game for Houston.
Tweet of the night: I'm cheating here because this was me and my dad, but any chance to get him on TDS is a win for me.
Jason Terry and Tarik Black go out. My dad: Why is McHale taking them out? Me: You can't play them 48 minutes. My dad: Why not? #Dadstrategy— The Dream Shake (@DreamShakeSBN) December 6, 2014
Was Minnesota actually good tonight or was Houston bad?
Minnesota played a damn good game of basketball tonight. Kevin McHale after the game said, "Bottom line: they played harder than we did the entire night. We just got lucky and won." He wasn't kidding.
Shabazz Muhammad has been playing well recently, but Houston made him look like an All-Star in the first half. He finished with 20 points.
Corey Brewer looked human for most of the night, then remembered that he owns the Rockets and went on a personal 7-0 run during their 22-5 run. In a span of what was probably 30 seconds, he scored more than Houston did in over four minutes. So yeah. Why Saunders didn't run a play for him to win the game in regulation or OT is a mystery to me.
The box score says Zach LaVine missed 6 shots, but the box score is lying. That guy did not play like a rookie until the very end of the game, when he over-helped on Terry leaving Johnson with an open lane to the basket.
Jeff Adrien played 14 minutes when he probably should have played 40. He seemed pissed off all night and was an absolute monster inside. He finished with a game-high +14.
The Timberwolves probably heard a lot about how they had lost to the 6-76ers. So for the second time this season, Houston played a team coming off a loss to their pride. Earlier this season, they played Philly after the Sixers lost by 53 and got arguably Philly's best game of the season. So if people could stop beating the Rockets' next opponents to the point of wounding their pride, that would be nice for my sanity.
Injuries: Nine players missed this game tonight with injuries. Outside of Ronny Turiaf, these are all guys who you would expect to get heavy minutes. No wonder the Target Center looked empty. Also, Kostas Papanikolaou went down late with a knee sprain so that sucks. We'll probably get an official word from the team tomorrow, but it's unlikely that he'll suit up to face the Suns.
Joey Dorsey: A night after his best game as a Rocket this season, Dorsey got destroyed down low. He was constantly beat on the glass and Minnesota grabbed 14 offensive boards, mostly under his watch. He had one turnover but was partly responsible for at least 4 more and got blocked on both of his shot attempts, which we back-to-back putback opportunities.
Francisco Garcia: Look, I love what Garcia brings to this team off the court. But on the court, I don't want him out there. The best thing Cisco did all night was in a Root Sports commercial, which went something like this:
Question is asked, "If you could take one teammate with you to a deserted island, who would it be?"
Garcia: I would take Joey Dorsey because if an animal attacked me or anything, he would take care of it.
Immediate cut to Dorsey: I am not attacking an animal if it attacks. I'll be up in a tree hiding.
Really, I think Joey deserves credit there.
Do the Rockets play tomorrow? Because they really need the rest
Oh you, hoping for breaks in the schedule. You should know better.
The Rockets take on the Phoenix Suns tomorrow in Houston. Both teams played tonight on the road and both finished around the same time. However, Phoenix played in Dallas while Houston played in Minnesota. So who knows who this favors.
Wait, AK writes recaps now?
Not good ones.