The Houston Rockets had a chance to head into the All-Star break on a positive note, but their defense couldn’t stop a thing, and another big night in the box score from James Harden couldn’t save them, as the Rockets fell 121-111 to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The T’wolves shot 54 percent from the field for the night, scored 69 points in the second half, and had 70 total points in the paint in what amounted to very little interior resistance by the Rockets.
The Beard had 42 points to extend his historic 30+ scoring streak, and he also racked up 5 boards and 6 assists. He also hit three consecutive threes down the stretch in the fourth quarter to keep the Rockets in the game, but the defense had no key stops with the game on the line. None.
Kenneth Faried went for 12 points and 11 boards, but was a total turnstile on the defensive end. The Manimal has a place on this team, bringing some oomph off the bench in shorter minutes, but this team desperately need Clint Capela back patrolling the middle (hopefully after the break).
In addition, the Rockets also got 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 8 assists from Chris Paul, though he shot just 4-13 from the field and 2-8 from three. Paul’s looked better of late overall, but he wasn’t a factor down the stretch with the game on the line.
The Rockets also got 13 points from Eric Gordon and 13 from Gerald Green, who started off hot, then fizzled late. Newcomer Iman Shumpert had just 3 points, 1 rebound, and 1 assist in 21 minutes off of the bench in what was a disappointing performance from Houston’s chief deadline acquisition.
The Wolves were feasting with a balanced attack that had seven players in double figures, including all five starters. Jeff Teague had 27 points and 12 assists, Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 25 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks, and dominated the much smaller Houston front court. They also got 16 from Josh Okogie and a block I’m sure you’ll be seeing on Twitter, 15 points from Dario Saric, 13 from Luol Deng, 12 from Derrick Rose, and 10 points and 8 boards from Taj Gibson.
The Rockets head into the All-Star break at 33-24 and in fifth place overall in the Western Conference. It’s not where we thought they’d be, but they’re 22-10 since their terrible start, trending in the right direction overall despite the loss, and likely getting Clint Capela back after the break. Whether his presence alone is enough to sway the defense back to respectable remains to be seen.