Timberwolves’ depth again dominates in win over Houston

3 April 2024

Houston is Minnesota-like in its defensive approach.

The Rockets have a lot of excellent athletes capable of defending at a high level on the perimeter. And their defensive game plans are meticulous.

Houston coach Ime Udoka is on his players all game, directing traffic on how they should be covering each matchup and where the help should come from.

The Rockets effectively game-planned Anthony Edwards out of the game. The 22-year-old star guard scored just 13 points in the game’s first 47 minutes and didn’t record a made field goal until midway through the third frame.

Given that Minnesota is also sans Karl-Anthony Towns, these are the types of performances that you’d assume would lead to Timberwolves defeats.

But that simply has not been the case of late. Because, given the ball movement Minnesota has displayed and the confidence with which everyone on the floor currently possesses, if you commit too many resources to one player, the others will almost certainly kill you.

Such was the case in Tuesday’s 113-106 victory over the Rockets.

Naz Reid led the charge with 25 points, Mike Conley scored 12 points, Kyle Anderson had 13 points, nine assists and six rebounds, and Jordan McLaughlin knocked down three triples to go with seven assists as Minnesota’s offense kept chugging along.

Because the brand of basketball Minnesota is playing at the moment — with quick decisions and ample ball movement — is impossible to game-plan out.

So long as Edwards requires any extra attention from the opponent, someone else will be granted an advantage. And, at the moment, everyone on the floor is ready and able to capitalize on as much. And the end result is brilliant basketball.

That brand of basketball allowed Minnesota to keep Houston — one of the NBA’s hottest teams — at arm’s length for most of the night.

Finally, after struggling from deep for 95 percent of the contest, Houston got hot from three late, with Fred VanVleet going nuclear with four late triples after starting the game 0 for 7 beyond the arc.

That allowed Houston to close a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to just one with 112 seconds to play. But Conley hit a floater to push the lead back to three, and Minnesota’s defense then put on the clamps to create turnovers that led to easy Edwards buckets at the end to close the door.

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