Rockets 112, Timberwolves 101: I mean… Aaron Brooks had 26 points…

Zach Harper —  November 25, 2013 — 6 Comments

Aaron Brooks did what

I try to stay pretty measured when I’m talking about basketball for a very egotistical reason: I like being right.

I wish I had a nobler quest for discussing basketball but for the most part, I don’t see the point of taking a biased look at the NBA when it could stop you from being correct. I realize what an elitist attempt at viewing the NBA this ideology is but I’m being honest when I say that I like being right more than I like talking myself into my team being better than it might be. Some people aren’t built like that. They want to immerse themselves in the team, hope for the absolute best, talk up the guys they love watching and supporting (emotionally and financially), and be ride or die with their team.

I don’t fault that kind of thinking at all. It just doesn’t work for me just like my way of approaching it doesn’t work for a lot of people. One way is fun for some and not for others, and vice-versa. What does this little insight into my thought process have to do with the Wolves losing to the Houston Rockets?

My analysis of this game is pretty simple. I don’t want to take away from the Rockets’ victory. They beat the Wolves and did it pretty handedly. It wasn’t a blowout by any means but it also wasn’t really in question at any point. Maybe that does make it a blowout after all? Sometimes it’s hard to discern what’s a blowout and what has a chance of turning around. But again, I don’t want to take away from the Rockets’ victory. They were certainly the better team and exploited some poor defensive rotations on the perimeter. There are two things that seemed to great influence the outcome of this game.

First, the Wolves were on their fourth game in five nights. They were at Washington on the 19th, came home from D.C. to host the Clippers on the 20th, had the 21st off, hosted the Brooklyn Nets on the 22nd, and then flew to Houston to face the Rockets for the 23rd. They got in late to Houston, which is often a tough travel zone for a lot of teams around the league. The Rockets, on the other hand, played the Mavericks in Dallas on the 20th and then had the 21st and 22nd off to rest up and prepare for the Wolves on the 23rd.

Considering the talent and style of the Rockets (even without James Harden), that’s a pretty nice advantage for them thanks to the schedule. That doesn’t mean the Wolves shouldn’t get a loss there. You have schedule losses sometimes, something a lot of coaches are cognizant of when they look at what’s ahead of them. It was important for the Wolves to blow the Nets out of the water the night before but it still didn’t prevent them from getting run ragged by Houston. The schedule dictated they’d be behind the 8-ball in that game from the start. They probably would have been in a precarious situation anyway.

The Rockets are a really good team and if they can remain healthy and get some continuity together over the next couple of months, I could even see them contending for the Western Conference crown when it comes to the playoffs. We seem to forget that Dwight Howard is a great player, even though he’s an insufferable jackass in the media. Add in James Harden (yes, his defense is suspect but his scoring is suffocating) and a cast of role players that accept their roles and buy into the system and you’ve got a really well-balanced team. They need to learn how to defend better as a team, but I’d imagine that will come with time together on the court. It could be both a scheduled loss and a bad matchup for the Wolves. But give the Rockets credit; they beat a good Wolves team handedly without James Harden. That’s a big feather in their cap as well.

The second thing that influenced this outcome is the following:

AARON F***ING BROOKS HAD 26 POINTS IN A GAME IN 2013!

I don’t know what you do there. Aaron Brooks hasn’t really been a good NBA player since the 2009-10 season when he won Most Improved Player. Since then he’s had a huge regression. His legion of fans on Twitter (trust me; they come out of the woodwork when he’s inexplicably dropping points and you’re tweeting about it in a dumbfounded manner) will tell you the lockout screwed him over and he’s still good. I can assure you he’s really not. He hasn’t been a good shooter since his MIP season and he certainly hasn’t been a good player.

In his 123 games since the 09-10 season, he’s scored 13 points or more in a game 33 times. He’s scored 20 points or more seven times in a game. In the games he’s scored 13 points or more, his team is 16-17 (5-2 when he scores 20 or more). The idea of him dropping 26 points in a game in 2013 wasn’t just unlikely; it was almost funny to think about. The Wolves seemed to allow him to shoot. They defended some of them well but for the most part, he was the accepted safety valve from the Wolves’ perspective. At least that’s how it looked watching the game. He even had a couple of drives to the basket in which he tossed up some floaters off the glass that fell through.

Sometimes, it feels like if it’s going to take Aaron Brooks scoring 26 points to beat you, I think you just accept that as a fluke/freak occurrence and move on with the season. The Rockets still won fair and square. They controlled the majority of the game and got to play their style. They worked the Wolves for good shots and the 3-point shooting was sort of unseasonably warm, even for them. But Aaron Brooks scored 26 points in an organized, sanctioned NBA game in 2013 and it only took him 14 shots to do it.

I try to stay very measured in how I view the Wolves and basketball in general because I believe it’s the most beneficial for me, how I view the league, and my job. I would never want to come off as biased in a loss and pretend the other team didn’t work for their result and/or earn it. A lot of things happen throughout the course of a ball game that affect the outcome and that’s why I don’t like to blame the refs or generally make excuses for the loss. I think it makes more sense to look at what the Wolves can do better than to try and figure out a scapegoat to blame the loss on.

But… I mean… Aaron Brooks scored 26 points. He nearly matched his season total (28) in points in that one game. There are no excuses for the loss. The Wolves need to play with more energy and better focus to execute. But sometimes it’s just not your night.

Zach Harper

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6 responses to Rockets 112, Timberwolves 101: I mean… Aaron Brooks had 26 points…

  1. If we use Aaron Brooks career to determine the probability he scores 26 points on a given night, there’s a 1% chance. If we look only at the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons (70 games), the chances drop to 0.028%.

    It’s almost exactly the same as the chances Ricky Rubio scores 24 tonight against the Pacers.

    In other words, you’re correct. It’s highly unusual.

  2. That’s pretty much how I felt about the game. Houston outplayed us for sure, and it wasn’t that close. Even still it took 26 from Brooks, in Houston, on our 4th game in 5 nights, to win by a dozen. Even when it’s not our night, there’s positives to take away. still pleased as as punch with how the season has started and looks to be headed. side note: Can we petition the NBA to consider us an “Eastern” team?

    Also, Joe, cool probability stuff. i love tidbits like that.

  3. I get the fact that Aaron Brooks scoring 26 pts is highly unusual, but I also think we’re overlooking the fact that arguably one of the best scoring two-guards in the NBA was not active for this game. If Harden is active, there’s a solid chance he’s dropping 26, if not more. He’s averaging over 24 on the season.

    Believe me, I never thought I’d be on here defending Aaron Brooks, but the man is an NBA-level talent. He hit some tough shots and took advantage of a great opportunity. I really wish Alexy Shved could find a way to impact a game in a similar manner, but I’m not even sure he belongs in the NBA at this point.

    I think the bigger take-away that you touched on was their lack of focus. The Wolves seem to think they can execute poorly and still hang around long enough to steal games late, but that has not been the case thus far. I know it’s early in the season, but bit more urgency would be nice to see. We’re not good enough to overcome 10 or 15 pt deficits on a consistent basis.

  4. Schedule is real tough for the next bit. @Indiana, Denver, @Dallas, @OKC, San Antonio, Miami.

    I would be surpised if the wolves come out of that stretch above .500, but after that they will take off. The last 3 weeks of December look real good.

  5. It is 16 games in and they are 8-8…pretty disappointing start after their mini hot start. They are a team in flux. They lost to a really good Indiana team in Indiana…no shocker there. But, they have been losing a lot of games lately…not just to the top squads of the league. In fact, they have only been beating poor teams w/poor records. They are 3-6 in their last 9 and they have beaten Boston, Brooklyn and Cleveland during that stretch. Their bench has to be the worst or one of the worst in the NBA. Now they traded away the 2nd overall pick in the draft a few years ago to obtain Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. I get trading away Williams as he has been a bust for the most part. I think he has a poor attitude and I don’t think he has the ability to play alongside Kevin Love for big minutes. But, then for him, you acquire Mbah a Moute? A guy who has a game like Dante Cunningham. Their backups off the bench: Shved, Barea, Hummel, Cunningham, etc.- that needed to be improved by trading Williams…instead they get a guy in Mbah A Moute, that is the same guy as Cunningham. It boggles the mind. They talk of how much it will help their defense…why? Their best defenders are Brewer and Cunningham…Mbah a Moute plays the same position as the two of them as a 3/ 4 combo guy…what are you going to do play he Brewer and Cunningham along with Gorgui Deng? That is a pretty good defensive lineup but they couldn’t score points against a YMCA team.

  6. The Wolves have also let guys like Wilson Chandler, Evan Fournier, Marresse Speights, CJ Miles, and Alonzo Gee almost double their average scoring output (which would be fine if the Wolves were stopping those teams stars, but the Wolves are not). None have gone for 26 like Brooks, but Miles and Chandler each went for 19. Unfortunately, this seems to be more of a trend than an aberration.

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