The Rockets hung on to beat the Timberwolves 107-104. It was a game the Rockets normally lose. Off a back to back, against an inferior team; those had been losses this year. But again, and like the four games before, the Rockets found a way.
The Rockets let the Timberwolves back into the game in the fourth quarter but down the stretch, they were able to execute just a little bit better.
Below are three takeaways from the Rockets win over the Timberwolves
The Return of Ty Lawson
Ty Lawson had sat out the last three games for a suspension stemming from his DUI this past summer. He returned to be a very capable player.
You expected a little bit of a learning curve with his teammates after missing a little bit of time and there was, but not too much. Early on when the Rockets were suffering through Turnover Fest 2016, Lawson had a few drives that ended in turnovers because he was missing connections with the bigs.
Post-game, Lawson said he was misreading the bigs, not the bigs misreading him. After the short feeling out process, he was back to being the Lawson that we had come to expect before he served his DUI suspension.
More turnovers than a bakery store
After the first quarter, it was looking bleak that anyone watching on TV or in person would ever see good basketball. Both the Timberwolves and the Rockets combined to turn the ball over 16 times. The turnovers were half good defense and half just trying to do too much.
In the second half, the Rockets took care of the ball more and focused on making the right plays instead of the "home runs" as James Harden called them.
The Rockets defense in the second half continued to tip passes and play the lanes, continuing to force the Timberwolves into more turnovers.
The Rockets finished with 20 fastbreak points on the night and the Timberwolves only had 8. Turnovers were a big part in this game, but only one team capitalized more on them.
The Rockets have started to hustle and grind
Five wins in a row for the first time all season. An accomplishment right? The way the Rockets looked early on, I do not think many people saw them becoming winners of five in a row.
"We just starting to figure out how to win," Corey Brewer said in the locker room after the game. "No matter what it takes, we're playing good, we're playing bad, we got to figure out a way to win, and it's been happening lately."
For so long fans, media and even the players have waited for the Rockets to figure it out.
It takes execution, it takes defense and it takes hustle to get wins in the NBA. And over the past five games, the Rockets have brought that to the table.
The Rockets had two hard-fought, grind-it-out wins against the Jazz, they came back after trailing by double digits in the fourth quarter against the Pacers, they played defense against the Grizzlies, and now they've overcome the bouncy Timberwolves.
Not sure I personally have bought all the way back into the Rockets, but clearly they are getting close to being for real again. This Friday the new-look Rockets face their toughest test since Christmas, a matchup with the Cavaliers. If the Rockets manage to stretch this five-game win streak into six, people in Houston might be willing to jump right back on the bandwagon.