When Love was out vs. the Thunder and again vs. the Blazers last week we saw a Wolves team look to unlikely contributors to put points on the board. Ricky Rubio was aggressive, Dante crashed the boards and got putbacks, Budinger had his best scoring game of the season (vs. POR) and rookie Shabazz Muhammad actually played meaningful minutes and contributed a career-high in points (12).
That was on Saturday, tonight with Love back the Wolves went back to the same one-dimensional offense they've gone with since Nikola Pekovic went down with that ankle injury. Love is undoubtedly Minnesota's best offensive option, but those games without him (and Martin & Pek) showed that there are other players on this team that can be contributors.
There were multiple plays tonight (especially in the fourth quarter) that the Wolves continued to swing the ball to find Love for a shot (usually heavily contested or a bad pass resulting in a turnover).
Minnesota's 11-point fourth quarter is simply inexcusable. There's absolutely no reason that this team (even sans Martin & Pek) can't muster more than 11 points against an average Houston Rocket defense.
As per usual, the Wolves played a decent first three quarters before falling to shambles in the finale--something we've seen WAY to many times these past few seasons.
Tonight's game was one of runs, where each team took their turns scoring at will against shoddy defense. Unfortunately the Wolves couldn't get anything together in that fourth quarter. The Wolves shot just 5-for-24 from the field in the fourth. Getting Pek & Martin back will undoubtedly make this team better, but now that the Wolves have fallen 4 games below .500 and now 6.5 games behind the 8th seed in the Western Conference.
- The two teams shot 41 free throws and the Rockets missed the only two. Between the teams, there were 35 consecutive free throws made at one point.
- Kevin Love went a perfect 12-for-12 from the line with 8 of those attempts coming in the first quarter!
- Love had 23 points at halftime which was a new career-high for Love in the first half of a game in his NBA career.
- Alexey Shved had a terrific first half (potentially the best of his NBA career) in which he buried two triples and had a highlight reel dunk over Howard in traffic. Shved had a rough outing in the second half. Shved shot 0-for-3 from the field and had all 3 of this turnovers in the second half.
- The Rockets had all five of their starters finish in double figures and also got a solid game from their backup big man: Donatas Motiejunas off the bench.
- Without Pekovic, the Rockets looked to exploit Minnesota's weakness on the interior, that was clearly evident by Dwight Howard playing a game-high 39 minutes and finishing with 18 & 15. That being said, under the circumstances, Turiaf & Dieng did an admirable job defensively.
- This is officially Minnesota's longest losing streak of the season with four consecutive losses. They're also 4 games below .500 which is also the worst of the season.
- Luc Richard Mbah a Moute had one of his best games as a Minnesota Timberwolf. He spent the majority of his minutes defensively guarding James Harden, but he also chipped in some offensive production and was simply very active on both ends of the floor.
- Rick Adelman was not at tonight's game for "personal reasons". As such, Terry Porter was the acting head coach. It's unknown why exactly Adelman missed the game, but it sounded as though it's expected he'll return for Wednesday's game vs. the Nuggets.
The All-Star break begins for the Wolves following their Wednesday night contest vs. the Nuggets, it certainly can't come soon enough for this floundering Wolves squad.