That was maybe the ugliest NBA game I’ve ever watched.
Minnesota shot 38.8 percent from the field, while Houston was even worse – 36.5 percent. It was an all-out brick fest. Unfortunately for the Wolves, they were unable to capitalize on Houston’s 61 missed shots.
The T-Wolves started off strong, going on an early 14-6 run and holding a 23-18 lead after the first period.
Trends that Minnesota started in the first quarter, such as forcing turnovers, running in transition and attacking the rim, quickly ended.
It all fell apart in the second period.
The solid defensive effort put together by Minnesota early on was followed by a 16-0 run by Houston in the second quarter, and the Rockets never looked back from that point.
Getting off to a fast start and following that by mediocrity for the rest of the game was Game 2’s theme.
Karl-Anthony Towns began by hitting his first two shots for five quick points in the opening quarter. That was the last time Towns would see the ball go through the net, as he finished the game with only five points on 2-for-9 from the field in 24 minutes.
Jeff Teague had a similar experience; he started hot and looked to attack early, but began committing questionable fouls and stopped taking care of the ball. Teague finished with eight points, four fouls and four turnovers in 19 minutes.
Andrew Wiggins had a few nice drives to the rim, but finished with an inefficient 13 points on 6-of-14 shooting.
It’s apparent that after playing an entire season, Tom Thibodeau doesn’t know how to assemble an effective lineup, as noted by John Meyer of Canis Hoopus.
Having Derrick Rose and Jamal Crawford in the game at the same time is just begging for the other team to go on an offensive barrage against you.
Not even Thibodeau’s catastrophic lineups could contain Playoff Harden in Game 2. Following his 44-point Game 1 performance, Harden shot 1-of-12 in the first half and finished the game with 12 points on 2-of-18 shooting.
Despite Harden reaching peak playoff mode, the other half of Houston’s superstar backcourt was a problem for the Wolves all night.
Chris Paul finished with 27 points, eight assists, three steals and a handful of plays that made Minnesota defenders look foolish.
Houston’s hometown hero and former Timberwolves player, Gerald Green also had a big game for the Rockets. Green, as he often has since being picked up, provided Houston with a pivotal spark off the bench with 21 points and a game-best plus-minus of +27.
That’s the danger with this Rockets team; there are several guys who can step up and have huge games if one of the stars has gone cold. And they’re beating the Timberwolves handily without one of their key role players, Ryan Anderson.
The Wolves could’ve stolen either of the first two games of the series if the team would have shown up.
I’m not sure if Towns is getting caught in the moment, or if Clint Capela and the rest of Houston’s defense has been too stifling, but he has to come out of his slump and go big for the Wolves as the team returns home.
I think I speak for much of the Wolves fan base when I say, being down 2-0 to Houston is what I expected to happen after two games, but this isn’t how I expected it to happen.
I was anticipating high-scoring games where Houston would beat the Wolves by shooting the lights out, and Houston’s stars would outshine Minnesota’s in the end. Houston has shot poorly in both games, which is what needed to happen for the Wolves to make it a competitive series.
The Wolves and Rockets could easily be tied at 1-1, but the Wolves core hasn’t delivered.
Nonetheless, I am excited for Minnesota’s return to Target Center and for the fans to finally witness a home playoff game. Hopefully everything clicks and Minnesota can steal one at home.