Archives For Houston Rockets

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If you were upset at last night’s 113-101 loss to the Houston Rockets, then we may have a problem — a whole lot of the Wolves’ losses this season are going to look like this, especially to clearly superior teams. With the win, the Rockets improved to 7-1 on the season, including 5-0 on the road, tying them for best record in the NBA with the Toronto Raptors and the Memphis Grizzlies. That doesn’t mean we’re going to be watching a Houston-Toronto Finals in June, but it does mean that the Rockets, who were already an offensive juggernaut, seem to have turned up the defense just enough to make a big leap in overall quality.

But on the Wolves’ side, here is the texture you should get used to, especially as long as Ricky Rubio is out: Teams don’t have a ton of tape on tendencies for guys like Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and even Shabazz Muhammad, so early on in any given game you’ll see them getting by on athleticism and surprise. For example, if you don’t think Muhammad’s coast-to-coast dunk (which was awesome, incidentally) wasn’t the product of no Rocket player thinking he was going to do it, you’re crazy. Continue Reading…

Photoshop by Jon Hartzell (@jhartzell2)

Photoshop by Jon Hartzell (@jhartzell2)

It’s nearly 11 pm and we’re in the Timberwolves locker room waiting for Corey Brewer to pee. And no, this league-mandated drug test is not because he scored what must be up there with the most unlikely 51 points ever scored in an NBA game — it’s just a coincidence.

Here’s what I thought I would be writing about this game earlier in the day, pretty much win or lose: How Rick Adelman is likely going to slip away from this franchise without a shred of fanfare and how that’s genuinely kind of sad, no matter how disappointing this season has been or how much blame you lay at his feet for that disappointment. With this season drifting gently to its conclusion for the Wolves, a nice win over a shorthanded Spurs team feels good, but maybe not quite as good as a victory over the Heat in double overtime. They both feel better than a loss to Orlando. But what every game has in common at this point is an unmoored feeling, a sense that we’re scraping the jar for a story to tell ourselves at this point. We’re stitching the box scores together into a sail when the tides will be more than enough to bring us into shore after next week’s final game against Utah, one way or another.

But tonight is different somehow, and not because it means more, but maybe because it makes so little sense. Some guys were good, some guys were not so good. Ricky Rubio (16 pts, 10 asts), Gorgui Dieng (12 pts, 20 rebs) and Dante Cunningham (20 pts, 13 rebs) all had double-doubles. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute shot abysmally (1-7) and — in spite of a porous Rockets team lacking their only real defensive assets in Patrick Beverley and Dwight Howard — he and the Wolves as a whole took a lot of ill-advised midrange jumpers, rather than getting into the paint.

But you know who got into the paint? Corey Wayne Brewer, who made 16 of his 19 shots in the restricted area on his way to a nearly incomprehensible 51. His previous career high was 29, his season average going into tonight, 11.7 ppg. Kevin Love scored 51 in double overtime against the Thunder. Brewer did it in 45 minutes. Continue Reading…

Houston Rockets v Minnesota Timberwolves

Going into last night’s game against the Houston Rockets, the Wolves were in a flat spin and headed out to sea, losers of five of the last six and facing a team they match up with exceedingly poorly. Consider: without Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin, their biggest impact players are at the point guard and power forward positions, while the Rockets’ most essential positions are shooting guard, small forward and center. The result, then, was to be expected—especially with Rick Adelman’s absence from the bench for personal reasons—against a team that’s not yet in the upper echelon of the Western Conference, but is still pretty damn good.

Not that the Wolves didn’t have their moments. You can see below that they actually ran a play: Continue Reading…

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? Continue Reading…

Its hard to feel something you don’t feel. Your family tries in vain to reinvest old holiday rituals with their primordial emotion. Your band struggles to recapture the magic of a song that once sounded vital. You show up to work and unsuccessfully attempt to force yourself to care. These things happen to us and they happen to basketball players. Part of a professional’s job is forcing the body to expend the effort and forcing the mind to focus even when, as is inevitable, the heart just isn’t in it.

Neither the Rockets nor the Timberwolves were particularly successful at this task on Wednesday night. The Rockets had, just a day earlier, spent massive quantities of energy in burying the Bulls in Chicago; the Wolves merely looked as if they had. Whatever the reason–homesickness maybe, or physical fatigue or too much butter in the mashed potatoes–both teams approached the greater portion of the game with a kind of glassy-eyed, morning-after ennui. Suffice it to say, the basketball on display was neither precise nor particularly spirited.

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The Wolves got Kevin Love a couple of easy baskets against the Houston Rockets during their fourth and final meeting of the season by finding ways to get him moving across the lane and into the strong side of the floor. I thought I’d examine a couple of plays by breaking down how they developed and the options it leaves Minnesota on the floor. I figured I’d get my Sebastian Pruiti on for a little bit.  Continue Reading…

 

Woodville Caton

I do not understand the sentence “Nikola Pekovic scored 30 points in one game.” The Scientologists would probably urge me to exhaustively research the etymologies of each individual word, but that probably wouldn’t help much (although you never know–there are so many levels of consciousness I’ve yet to attain…). I mean, I just watched the actual game in question with my own eyes and it’s still beyond me. Part of the mystification centers on the sight of Pekovic casually dropping in gentle layup upon uncontested dunk upon easy bankshot. Professional basketball is complicated. Dribbling or shooting a basketball while some of the tallest, quickest men on the planet attempt to prevent you from doing same? Really hard to do. This is a player who struggled last season to wrest floor time away from Darko Milicic, who induced widespread stink-faces whenever he began to dribble the basketball, who just could not stop fouling. It is not supposed to look as simple and easy as Pek made it look on Friday.

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You expend serious effort in an ultimately futile double-digit comeback, one punctuated by one of the greatest scorers ever breaking your heart on possession after possession. You get on an airplane that night,  fly to Houston, Texas and then play in yet another NBA basketball game 24-hours later. Just thinking about this makes me want to ice my knees and take a nap. And yet the Wolves did this very thing and managed to put together their finest offensive performance of the season (and a pretty solid defensive one to boot). An aesthetically pleasing road win against a good team in which your most talented players really live up to those talents: this one feels pretty nice.

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At the moment that Kevin Love scored his 10th and 11th points of this game, notching his 38th consecutive double-double, breaking records held by folks like Kevin Garnett and John Stockton, I thought to myself: boy a double-double isn’t really much of a stat is it? After all, Love has shown us more than once that it’s possible to get one (more than one) without actually playing that well.

I was thinking this because up to that point Love looked like the physically un-well man that he apparently was. He was pale, haggard and listless. Despite his rebounding numbers, he was not pursuing the ball off of the glass with his customary anticipation and abandon. He was struggling to shoot the ball with any balance and rhythm against the massively strong, thick-legged Chuck Hayes (everybody does). He was passive and slow on defense, getting smoked both by Luis Scola, the beautifully dissolute-seeming Argentine (understandable) and by Hayes himself (not so much). (By the way, I love that these two are on a team together. If Scola and Hayes were buildings, Scola would be some boozy, debauched 4AM tapas bar while Hayes would be the last remaining rock factory in Gary, Indiana.)

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