Both teams had to work very hard for their points in the first quarter.
The Rockets might have shot 10-of-19 from the field, but they made only one of their seven three-point attempts, having to get all their points from inside the arch. And the Wolves won the quarter 28-23, but it took them 25 attempts to score those 28 points, and they were a meek 4-11 from deep, as well.
While each team made two free-throws in the period, the difference for Minnesota would be them dominating the glass 14-6, including five offensive rebounds. The Timberwolves led by as much as 10 before Houston cut it down to five to end the quarter.
Christian Wood led the Rockets in scoring in the first 12 minutes with 10 points, four boards, and two assists on four-of-six shooting. Kelly Olynyk followed closely with six points on three-of-four shooting.
The Rockets’ lack of success behind the three-point line continued in the second quarter of the game, and it gave the Timberwolves a chance to extend their lead.
In the half, Houston shot a miserable 3-of-16 from deep, only two-of-nine in the second quarter. On the other side, the Wolves went a stellar 4-of-9 from deep in the second quarter and 8-of-20 in the half for 40%.
The Rockets also committed three more fouls and had four more turnovers than the Timberwolves in the first 24 minutes on the way to a 59-50 halftime deficit.
Wood added only three more points in the second quarter, but luckily for the Rockets, he had more assistance on the offensive end. Kelly Olynyk added eight points in the second to give himself 14 points in the half on an efficient 6-9 shooting. Jae’Sean Tate had nine points in the half after scoring only two points in the first quarter.
Olynyk also might have had the play of the game after monster-mashing on two T-Wolves defenders.
In a big turn of events, the Rockets absolutely controlled the third quarter from start to finish.
Houston opened up the second half on an 11-2 run to get them within two points of the Wolves.
Jae’Sean Tate led the way for the Rockets’ offense 11 points on five-of-six shooting in the third. Tate showed a great, complete offensive package in the third.
Kevin Martin Jr. broke out in the second half with five points in the third after scoring only four points in the first half. Olynyk and Wood had 20 points and 18 points, respectively, after three quarters.
The Rockets garnered a solid lead towards the end of the quarter after going on a 10-2 run to get them a 77-71 lead. But a white-hot D’Angelo Russell closed the quarter with two quick threes to close out the deficit and went into the final 12 minutes of the game down only 79-78.
Here comes a scheduled fourth-quarter ending to tonight’s game: the Rockets weren’t able to hold on to the lead.
The Timberwolves didn’t give the Rockets any hope early on in the final 12 minutes after they opened up the quarter on a 16-4 run. Minnesota held their lead for the majority of the fourth, but Houston had a strong push late to tie the game 102-102 with 2:38 left in the game. Their hopes were dashed quickly after a 12-5 Timberwolves run to close the quarter put the game away.
To no one’s surprise, Kelly Olynyk led the Rockets in scoring with 28 points, nine rebounds, and five assists after going 12-17 from the field. Christian Wood had 24 points and an astounding 18 rebounds on 9-16 shooting. Jae’Sean Tate decided to do all his scoring in the first three quarters, closing out with 20 points and seven rebounds and went 9/12 from the field. Kevin Martin Jr. had 15 points on 6-12 shooting. In his return, Kevin Porter Jr. shot a miserable 2-12 from the field for 10 points, four rebounds, and five assists in 35 minutes.
For the Timberwolves, Karl-Anthony Towns was a nightmare on offense, scoring 31 points to go along with seven rebounds and five assists on 12-22 shooting. Rookie Anthony Edwards was arguably outplayed by Tate after Edwards went 9-22 from the field for 19 points and nine rebounds. Juancho Hernangomez scored 22 points and had seven rebounds despite going an atrocious three-of-eight from the free-throw line. D’Angelo Russell had 15 points and seven assists on 5-17 shooting.
Houston now drops to 15-48 on the season and is one step further to securing their bottom-three record. It’s hard to expect that to change with them facing the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday in Houston.