Advertisement

Wolves bust out of funk with 122-95 victory over Rockets

HOUSTON – Wednesday's lopsided loss to the Pelicans marked the nadir of this Wolves season. It marked a new day for the franchise that this low point came on the team's first two-game losing streak 33 games into the season.

But after talking about how they were in a rut following that game, how would this Wolves team respond as it embarked on a four-game road trip beginning in Houston?

Just fine, it turned out. The Wolves wrestled control from the Rockets early and led most of the way in a 122-95 victory to improve to 25-9.

The Wolves got contributions up and down the lineup. The big names played well, with Anthony Edwards scoring 24 and Karl-Anthony Towns turning in one of his best recent performances with 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

At the start of the fourth quarter, a unit of four bench players – Naz Reid, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Kyle Anderson and Jordan McLaughlin – plus one of either Towns or Rudy Gobert, pushed the Wolves' lead above 20 with an 11-2 spurt and turned the game into a rout. Reid finished with 16 while Jaden McDaniels had 16 on 7-for-10. Jalen Green had 20 for Houston. The Wolves held Houston to 40% shooting while shooting 52% themselves.

Both teams came into the game with defenses that ranked in the top five in the league, but in the opening minutes, they offered little resistance. The score was tied 18-18 with the Rockets opening the night 7-for-10, the Wolves 7-for-12.

But the Wolves' defense clamped down a bit the rest of the first and forced Houston into a 3-for-10 finish to the quarter with six turnovers. The Wolves limited their turnovers to two while Edwards found some early success getting to the free-throw line (5-for-5). That led to a 32-24 Wolves lead after one.

The Wolves pushed their lead to double digits in the second quarter as the defense continued its strong play. After Houston started the night hot, the Rockets went 10-for-32 the rest of the half, and the Wolves did a good job cleaning up all those misses.

The only thing holding them back from having more than a 56-46 lead at the end of the first half was five second-quarter turnovers. Edwards finished the quarter with 14 points while Towns had 11. Sengun began the night 4-for-5 but was just 2-for-8 the rest of the half.

Houston hung around thanks to its sharp three-point shooting, even as it was missing from inside the arc, but the Wolves maintained their double-digit lead early in the third as Edwards piled in another seven points, including a high degree of difficulty make from the right elbow while getting fouled.

The Wolves spread the wealth around on offense during the quarter as Gobert (13 points, 12 rebounds) got a couple of slams, McDaniels scored at the rim and Towns picked up another five points, including a three-point play off an offensive rebound. Another Towns offensive rebound led to one of the highlights of the night for the Wolves.

Off the board, he found a cutting Anderson, who threw home an authoritative dunk on Jabari Smith Jr. that got the bench excited and gave the Wolves 84-67 lead, their largest of the night up until that point. Thanks to a plucky bench effort that stifled the Rockets defensively, that led only grew the rest of the night. It began at 12 to start the night then grew to 24 within the first five minutes of the fourth.