The Minnesota Timberwolves dropped their tenth game of the season as they were defeated by the Houston Rockets; 92-107. This 15-point loss marks the largest loss margin for Minnesota thus far in 2011-12.
Kevin Martin got rolling early and although the Timberwolves were able to battle back and even take a lead at one point in the second half, the Rockets never stopped executing on the offensive end and continued to step up on the defensive end as the game went on. By the final quarter, it seemed the only Timberwolf interested in playing was Kevin Love who dumped in 39pts and grabbed 12 boards.
By the final quarter it wasn't just physical fatigue. I think we can assume that was a big part of it, considering the Wolves had just 9 healthy players. However, it was mental fatigue, as well. No matter what the Wolves did, everytime they scored--the Rockets would run down and throw in an easy bucket--at some point, they apparently gave up...
The Wolves were again without J.J. Barea, Michael Beasley, Malcolm Lee, Brad Miller & Martell Webster. They also lost Wesley Johnson, who missed the game with an illness. No, word yet on his return--though I should have something in our injury report by tomorrow--same with the other five players! Stay tuned for that!
With Wesley Johnson out, the Wolves gave rookie Derrick Williams his first NBA start of his career. He matched up against rookie Chandler Parsons and finished with 11pts & 7rebs in 37 minutes--I won't lie, I was definitely expecting more from him tonight...
Let's take a look at some individual statistics from some of tonight's key players for each team...
Kyle Lowry contributed a double-double, K-Mart tossed in 31pts on just under 50% shooting and the Rockets cruised. They also got a big lift from their bench unit--guys like Goran Dragic & Patrick Patterson--who helped to close the game out in the second half.
For the Wolves--All You Need is Love! Boy, do I wish that were true! Kevin Love delivered one of the best games of his career and it was all for none as no one else stepped up OR seemed to interesting in stepping up. They did get 17pts from Ridnour, but beyond him--they just looked lost out there! Looking at the statistics: Kevin Love shot 68% from the field (13-19) while the rest of the team shot 33% (20-61)! Clearly, Kevin Love needs some help out there. Ricky Rubio did have 12 assists in the game, but he also shot 20% from the field (2-10), scoring just 6pts, and committed 5 turnovers in 38 minutes. Obviously, when the plethora of injured TWolves return--that could REALLY help--guys like Michael Beasley (someone who can create his shot), J.J. Barea who provides great depth at the guard. As well as Martell Webster, Brad Miller & Malcolm Lee returning--guys we haven't seen this season (did see one game of Lee in the second preseason game vs. Milwaukee in mid-December.
Let's take a look at some team comparison statistics...
The Wolves actually shot a decent percentage in all areas, rebounded the ball well and had plenty of ball movement--a good amount of assists. However, they got beat on the break (as usual), a +11 in those. It was a fairly even matchup in the paint, however--like the past two games, Darko & Pekovic didn't have big games, scoring points in the post. Then it comes down to the two biggest problems for the Wolves tonight. 1.) Bench Points. The Wolves had only nine healthy players out there--that means everyone needed to contribute--ultimately, everyone didn't! The Rockets' second unit--led by Dragic, Patterson & Lee dominated the Wolves and closed this one out. 2.) Turnovers. After a short stretch of limiting team turnovers the Wolves took a GIANT leap backwards. They turned the ball over 20 times and allowed 27 points off them! Way too many unforced turnovers and just stupid passes and poor execution. Not a good job of handling and controlling the ball.
Long story short? Kevin Love can't score all 100pts a night! He needs some help out there. Everyone else needs to take a BIG step up! Love also needs to continue to contribute 20-30 points a night, while shooting a high percentage.
Lastly, an update on McHale & Flynn's return to the Twin Cities as well as Rick Adelman facing his former team. The executive/occasional coach of the Timberwolves for over 15 years, responsible for drafting the likes of Kevin Garnett, Wally Szczerbiak, Kevin Love etc. returned and it was surprising to hear the Target Center crowd boo the man--who was once a cornerstone of this franchise! Jonny Flynn did not play in the game (coach's decision). He's been unable to get minutes behind Lowry & Dragic. Rick Adelman was up against his former team--he helped build and develop over his tenure in Houston while his star players (T-Mac & Yao) spent the majority of the time injured.
That's all I've got for now, we'll have a few videos and pictures up within the next day or so as well as an updated stats & injury report page(s). Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!