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Rockets struggle in opener, fall 124-106 to Timberwolves

Not the start we were hoping for.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t exactly the best of the starts to the season for the Houston Rockets. They by were outhustled, outmuscled, and outgunned by the Minnesota Timberwolves, as they were down big most of the night in ultimately falling 124-106 in the season opener.

The game probably wasn’t as close as that score, actually. The Rockets were down 20-plus for the majority the night and were down 35 at one point before the bench group went on a 19-2 run late in the fourth quarter with the game long out of reach to make the final tally somewhat less embarrassing.

The Rockets were led by Christian Wood, who finished the game with 16 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 block, though no one played particularly well, with the exception of Alperen Sengun.

Alpie went for 11 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals in 19 minutes, and his advanced court awareness, particularly for a 19-year-old, was on full display on both the offensive and the defensive ends of the court. It’s only a matter of time before he’s starting.

Eric Gordon was the other leading scorer, with 15 points and 2 boards off of the bench, but he was pretty much a non-factor after halftime.

Kevin Porter Jr. struggled much of the night at the point guard position, and his lazy passes and inability to consistently set the offense was a major catalyst in Houston getting smacked in the mouth early and often. KPJ finished the night with 11 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal while shooting 4-12 from the field and 2-7 from deep. The big blemish in his line, however, were the 9 turnovers and the sloppiness. Houston turned it over 24 times as a team.

Jalen Green also struggled. His debut was less than stellar, though he did show some flashes. He finished with 9 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal, though he continued to struggle with his shot, going 4-14 from the field and 1-6 from three. He showed some creative moves in getting to the bucket, but until he gets his shooting in order, we’re not going to see the best Green has to offer.

Jae’Sean Tate got the start at small forward, but was mostly ineffective. He flashed his experience and smarts in trying to keep his teammates in the right position, but it was to no avail and he struggled in the production department as well, going for just 2 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists.

Daniel Theis finished with 11 points and 5 boards, and I’ll be hoping to see more of KJ Martin in the next game. He got just 9 minutes of garbage time and finished with 7 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal. I feel like his energy and physicality could have been used tonight against a Timberwolves team that clearly came out more aggressive.

As for Minny, it was Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards doing most of the damage. Towns scored 30 points on 11-15 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks, while Edwards had 29 points on 6-12 from deep and also added 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal. D’Angelo Russell also pitched in 22 points and 7 assists, and all three guys had an early night due to the blowout.

The Rockets will return home to lick their wounds. They have a day off tomorrow before the Friday home opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder.