Rousing second-half comeback sends Wolves past Houston
Conventional wisdom holds that a good defense fuels an effective offense.
At least for a night, the Timberwolves might disagree. In Mondays game against Houston at Target Center the first time the two teams have met since the first round of last years playoffs the Wolves used an offensive explosion to kickstart some killer second-half defense in a 103-91 come-from-behind victory over the Houston Rockets.
It was a sight to see.
Down 16 early in the third quarter, the Wolves got three-pointers from five players while finishing the quarter on a 34-16 run to take a four-point lead into the second.
Then, with Robert Covington leading the way, the Wolves slowed the Rockets high-powered attack down the stretch.
Up four entering the fourth quarter, Covington opened the fourth with a three-point play. Moments later he tied up Rockets guard Chris Paul, winning the jump. Moments after that he tied up Houston center Clint Capela, winning that jump, too.
At the other end, Covington hit a three-pointer that put the Wolves up 12 with 7andfrac12; minutes to go.
It was enough.
The Wolves (12-12) rebounded from their Saturday loss to Boston, breaking a two-game winning streak by Houston (11-12)
All five Wolves starters were in double figures, led by Karl-Anthony Towns, who had 24 points and 11 rebounds. Taj Gibson scored 15 with 10 rebounds. Andrew Wiggins had 16.
The Rockets got 29 points form James Harden and 24 from Capela.
But if it was offense that got the Wolves back in the game, it was defense that finished it. The Rockers scored 62 points in the first half, 29 in the second on 12-for-39 shooting. The Rockets scored nine fourth-quarter points.
Up 12 after Covingtons trey, the Wolves held the Rockets at bay the rest of the way; Houston never got closer than nine the rest of the way.
Down 16 early in the third quarter, the Wolves roared back. With Gibson scoring six and Jeff Teague hitting two three-pointers, the Wolves went on a 24-8 run to pull even at 76-76 on Teagues three-pointer with 3:40 left in the quarter.
They werent done. By the time the quarter had ended the Wolves had gone 7-for-10 on three-pointers in the quarter getting at least one from five players while finishing the quarter on a 34-16 run to take an 86-82 lead into the fourth quarter. The Wolves had responded to Houstons 38-24 second quarter with a 38-20 edge in the third.
The Wolves stuck with the Rockets in the first quarter, despite the Rockets edge in shooting, fast-break points (9-2) and three three-pointers.
Towns had eight and Wiggins, showing aggression, had six. The Wolves led 14-11 early before Harden and Gordon each hit three-pointers in a quick 8-0 run that put the Rockets up five. But the Wolves bench ended the quarter on a 10-5 run to tie the game at 24.
Things didnt go well for the Wolves in the second. With Harden scoring 14 points, leading a Rockets team that shot 11-for-18 overall, 5-for-8 on three-pointers and march to the free throw line 12 times.
The result: a 38-24 second quarter that put the Rockets up 62-48 at the half. It could have been worse had not Wiggins hit a three-pointer from just past midcourt as the half expired.
Its a sign of how frustrated the Wolves were that three players got called for technical. Towns after being called for his third foul and second charge; Covington after being called for a block after Harden basically ran him over and Teague for reasons nobody could quite ascertain.
The Rockets led by as many as 19 in the second quarter.