Unfortunately it wasn't enough as the Wolves were dismantled by a Rockets team playing without their center (the best in the game) Dwight Howard. In his place, stepped Omer Asik, who would be an NBA starter on quite a few teams (which makes Dieng's stat line a bit more impressive).
Led by James Harden and Chandler Parsons the Rockets were able to overcome a typical hot start by the Timberwolves. It was Minnesota's typical 30+ point first quarter, followed by three ensuing quarters of shoddy basketball on both ends. If the Wolves could play a fraction as well as they do in the first quarters, they'd be a playoff basketball team.
Ultimately, with tonight's loss, the Wolves can kiss their playoff hopes goodbye. Now through 67 games, the Wolves have just 15 games to go and they now sit six full games behind Dallas/Memphis for a final seed in the Western Conference playoffs. To make the postseason, the Wolves would need to play near perfect basketball and hope for an epic collapse from one of the above teams. Unlikely and improbable, but not impossible. Just to be clear, I don't think it is at all possible; at least not for this group of Wolves that just seem afraid to succeed.
The Timberwolves led early in this one thanks to a great first quarter and as per usual, Adelman put the second unit into the game and they squandered the lead. By doing so, they got the Rockets going and even when Adelman turned back to his starting unit, it proved to little to late.
The Rockets led by 16 points after three quarters and Adelman decided the game was too far out of reach and the only starter to see any fourth quarter minutes was Gorgui Dieng (mainly because he usually is a reserve and he's currently the only true [healthy] center on the roster).
Tonight's box score...
What I Liked About Tonight's Game...
- Gorgui Dieng.
- Luc Richard Mbah a Moute's game. He finished with the best +/- for the Wolves (-2) and did a decent job on defense against Harden. It wasn't spectacular and James still scored quite a bit, but Mbah a Moute made him work for everything he got. In addition, Luc had probably his best offensive outing as a Wolf scoring 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting in 25 minutes off the bench.
What I Disliked About Tonight's Game...
- Everything and Everyone Else. Highlighted by J.J. Barea. I still cannot fathom why his bipolar, inefficient and ineffective play is tolerated. I remember a couple seasons ago, when Michael Beasley was still with the Timberwolves. Beasley was coming off a season under Kurt Rambis where he was the second-leading scorer behind Love, putting up 20 a night. Under Adelman for the first year, Beasley began the season as a starter, but injured his foot and missed a stretch of games; upon returning, he came off the bench and he'd only play a couple minutes a night. Rick would only allow him to play more minutes if he was efficient and effective on the court. Why isn't J.J. Barea held to that same standard? There are other players (Price or Shved) that could be called upon to take those minutes (they may not be A LOT better, but I'd much rather have Price running the second unit than Barea). When Beasley was with the team, it wasn't as if he was replaced by an all-star when he got injured. Wesley Johnson took his minutes! WES JOHNSON! Throughout the majority of Rick's tenure in Minnesota I've tried to keep my negative opinions on the future Hall-of-Famer off of here, but there have been so many things this season that just baffle me and the first and foremost thing is Adelman's rotations. I'm honestly looking forward to a coaching change this season--though Adelman is far from the only problem with this team. The majority of the blame rests with the players and their unwillingness to play any kind of defense, coupled with their incredibly poor execution in clutch situations.
Rant over...I feel much better. The Wolves are back in action on Sunday afternoon when they'll take on the Suns back in Minneapolis at the Target Center. Tipoff is an early 2:30pmCST.