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Rockets steal loss from Timberwolves 107-101

The Losening Continues

Houston Rockets v Minnesota Timberwolves
Do you understand your mission, John? Good!
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

This will be a shorter recap, with a longer one summarizing this sub-epic clash, this brawl of drunken giants, this immobile tank battle, tomorrow.

The first half really seemed as though the Rockets had found their level. A contest between these two teams is actually...fairly enjoyable? Watchable? Neither team is good, but they aren’t full of terrible players, either. When they try it looks like basketball (mostly).

From the Rockets perspective, the combination of Christian Wood and Ben MeLemore proved a bit much for the TWolves in the first half. The generally very fine TWolves commentators identified McLemore as their problem. Really, despite his white hot shooting, he wasn’t, in the first half. Their problem is that they can’t stop Christian Wood (when he gets passes from John Wall), and when they shade their entire defense onto him, it gives McLemore enough space to shoot. Once he gets in a rhythm, he’s hard to stop.

Previously there was no one really worth that sort of defensive effort on the court for the Rockets most nights, and McLemore correspondingly, suffered. I had said he was perhaps a phenomenon of James Harden’s insane offensive gravity, but really, he’s a player that will feed of the offensive gravity of any better player.

Anyhow, hot shooting makes the Rockets look good, just as their usual, terrible, shooting makes them look awful. What would the second half bring in this Must Lose Contest?

The second half would bring a third quarter of solid Rockets basketball. McLemore cooled off, but Christian Wood stayed good (because he is good) and the rest of the Rockets played well. When new old PG DJ Augustin is in the game, the Rockets looked especially good, as he’s not particularly interested in scoring or other heroism. He’s clearly a backup point, but at a good level.

The Rockets closed out the quarter 91-76, seemingly in command. Some commenters were upset that the Rockets were going to win a game against a rival armored battalion.

O, ye of little faith, know you not John of the Wall?

Then it began in earnest as DJ Augustin (who had just made two shots, including a three) was removed for John Wall. Ben McLemore, who was scorching in the first half, had gone cold. Christian Wood was scuffling a bit, and Karl-Anthony Towns began collecting mysterious fouls.

It was as if the planets had aligned for a collapse, but at 101-87 at the 7 minute mark in the fourth quarter one might be excused for doubting the Rockets ability to lose this one.

For the next seven minutes the Rockets wouldn’t make a shot, and would turn the ball over, and foul, in increasingly amazing ways. John Wall lead the way, with 5 misses and three turnovers in seven minutes. It was a remarkable performance, but he didn’t do it alone, Ben McLemore, Christian Wood, and Sterling Brown all played a role in the fourth quarter clankfest.

The Rockets, despite all odds, snatched sweet defeat from the jaws of victory.

These two teams meet again...tomorrow. Same time! Same place!

And this time, it’s impersonal!


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