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Timberwolves’ inconsistency shows again in loss to hapless Houston

The victory snapped Houston’s 13-game losing streak. Seven of those defeats had come by 15-plus points.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets
Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green (4) makes a layup against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first quarter Monday, Jan. 23, 2023, in Houston. Green led all scorers with 42 points in Houston's 119-114 win.
Erik Williams / USA Today Sports
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HOUSTON -- The Minnesota Timberwolves tempted fate on three different occasions against the last-place Houston Rockets this season.

The third time was the charm, in the worst possible way for Minnesota.

The Wolves dropped Monday’s road contest 119-114 to hapless Houston.

The victory snapped Houston’s 13-game losing streak. Seven of those defeats had come by 15-plus points.

That’s what happens when you turn the ball over, don’t rebound, take bad shots and don’t defend at a high intensity. Minnesota has spent its season overlooking lesser foes to its own detriment.

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But Monday’s loss was the worst to date. Houston is rarely competitive. Yet the Rockets pushed Minnesota for much of Saturday’s contest, then flat out beat the Wolves on Monday. The victory came in Rudy Gobert’s return to the floor.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets
Houston Rockets center Alperen Sengun (28) takes an inside shot while Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert (27) defends Monday, Jan. 23, 2023, in Houston. Gobert had 15 points and 16 rebounds in the loss.
Erik Williams / USA Today Sports

Minnesota won Saturday’s contest late with a switch-heavy defense that stifled Houston. But Minnesota plays a drop coverage on pick and rolls with Gobert in the lineup. Houston second-year guard Jalen Green torched that look Monday, getting to the rim with ease and hitting a series of open jumpers en route to a career-high 42-point performance.

Houston jumped out to an 11-2 advantage Monday — the second contest between the two foes in three days. It’s not uncommon for NBA teams to split these two-game slates, which made Monday dangerous for Minnesota, even against a significantly inferior opponent.

The Wolves have at times been able to recover from similarly sluggish starts. And they did manage to knot the game by halftime Monday, largely thanks to a 19-point half from D’Angelo Russell, who continued his hot shooting streak.

Anthony Edwards and Russell had 31 and 30 points, respectively.

But Minnesota was buried by another incompetent third quarter effort. Ten of the Wolves’ 19 turnovers occurred in a third frame in which Houston (11-36) scored 34 points to take a nine-point lead heading to the fourth.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets
Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards talks with referee Marc Davis during Monday's game against the Houston Rockets. Edwards had a team-high 31 points in the loss.
Erik Williams/USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota couldn’t generate anywhere near enough stops to dig itself out of that hole. The Rockets shot 50% from the field. A victory Monday would’ve catapulted Minnesota above .500 for the first time since Dec. 20 and into the sixth spot in the Western Conference.

MORE MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES COVERAGE:
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Edwards held under 20 points for first time since Jan. 18
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Edwards is currently the league’s No. 4 overall scorer (1,346 points).
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Though some people have floated Reid’s name with the trade deadline looming next week, there’s absolutely no way the Timberwolves can trade him.
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Naz Reid had 24 points, 13 rebounds starting in place of the injured Rudy Gobert.
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They need to find some solutions because Golden State is coming to town Wednesday.
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The loss came after defeating the Kings at home on Saturday
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Minnesota has bested 3 of the top 4 teams in the West to kick off what was supposed to be a brutal run of 11 games
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Minnesota improved its record to 11-4 in January, including winning its last 3 games
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‘Making the right play,’ Edwards said, is working for teammates and the young guard himself
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Kyle Anderson stepped up again to provide a veteran presence, keeping the Grizzlies from mounting a comeback

But the Timberwolves (24-25) continue to be too inconsistent to achieve anything of consequence.

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Related Topics: MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES
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