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Timberwolves bite Rockets 141-123

That’s how it went.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Houston Rockets
The TWolves dunked it approximately 80 times tonight.
Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images

Perhaps I ought to introduce a new segment to these recaps. I’ll call it

Big Night for Rando. Now, these randos are actual NBA players. They’re insanely good at basketball. There’s a reason they’re playing in these games. And yet, the Rockets are possibly providing them with a career highlight, if not a career high, well outside the usual context of their typical performance.

The Rockets, a team known for its defensive generosity lately, has a great soul, a big heart, the sort of heart that says, “Hey, Jarred Vanderbilt, how about you nearly quadruple your normal stats tonight? No, it’s on us! Enjoy, my friend!”.

So in that spirit:

Big Night for Rando - Jarred Vanderbilt, a winner is you!

Jarred Vanderbilt probably doesn’t dunk this much in practice, or just hanging around, putting up shots. Vanderbilt, a 22 year old 6’9” PF selected in the 2nd round out of Kentucky, normally averages 6pts, 9rb, 1.3 ast.

Tonight? 21pts on 10-14 shooting (again, almost all dunks) 19 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks.

The Big Night for Rando probably tells you how the game went. Poorly.

The Rockets defense is currently abysmal. It’s terrible. There’s really not much good about it. They’re simply awful in transition, but they complement that by being bad in the half court, and also, terrible at defensive rebounding. Basically no one stays in front of his man, or knows where to be. Players are late getting back on defense, and no one seems to know where to go to cover for this (hint - protect the rim).

Tate is doing his best, and several other Rockets are at least trying to play defense (Green, Porter Jr., Gordon).

Christian Wood’s overall effort comes and goes. Tonight it went, as Karl Anthony Towns lit him up for 40pts in 33 minutes. In my opinion Towns really relishes the few defenders he can push around, and Wood is one of them. The Rockets lack another useful big to play, as Theis is now on the bench. Neither he nor Augustin made an appearance in this contest, as Silas seemed committed to playing the younger guys overall.

Wood did have a good offensive game, scoring 22pts, and grabbing 8 boards, but it was clearly insufficient in the face of Towns outburst.

Porter and Green had bad shooting nights, despite generally good looks. Porter Jr. continues to fill up the rest of the stat block, with 8 assists to 3 turnovers, 6 rebounds and 1 steal. He continues to get almost to the basket and subsequently not finish by scoring. Once again the choice to neither shoot a longer ranger, but less contested, floater, nor attempt a layup or dunk for scores or free throws, remains an issue.

Green looked sped up again, and his shooting form has slipped a bit from the cleaner version we saw when returned from injury.

The only good night tonight belonged to Josh Christopher, who notched a career high 19pts on 8-13 shooting, with 4 ast, 3 rbs, 2 stl. Christopher’s defensive effort is also high, but he’s making mistakes frequently as well.

The Rockets did play a more competitive second half, but Minnesota retained a lead around 20pts even so, and the Rockets never threatened to make it a game, as the Timberwolves responded to any Rockets run.

In the end, a team cannot expect to compete when surrendering 35-40 point quarters.

This is rebuilding. People don’t like it because it’s often like this.

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