sports 3 days ago

Rockets hit 22 3-pointers, stop Wolves' home winning streak with 126-108 win

Star Tribune (Minneapolis) — By Jerry Zgoda Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Feb. 13-- MINNEAPOLIS-In a rare moment of confession, Houston coach Mike D'Antoni admitted before Tuesday's 126-108 victory at Target Center that he knows three is more than two.

His team then went out and proved it for the 43rd time in 56 games by giving the Timberwolves a dizzying lesson in the NBA's new math.

By doing so, the Rockets also ended the Wolves' home winning streak that dated to mid-December at 13 games.

The Wolves ran their Top 5 offense to precision time and again Tuesday on a night when young star Karl-Anthony Towns had a 35-point, 12-rebound double-double and point guard Jeff Teague added 25, all in the first three quarters.

Then they were blown off the floor in a matter of moments near game's end when the Rockets simply made four consecutive 3-point shots in a mere 2:08.

The Wolves trailed 95-91 after they had scrapped their way back into the game with fewer than eight minutes remaining.

Then Rockets shooter Ryan Anderson made consecutive 3s, P.J. Tucker made a third and league MVP frontrunner James Harden added one of his own, just for good measure.

And just like that, the Rockets went from leading by four points to a 16-point lead.

Good night.

By the time it was all over, Houston outscored the Wolves 66-18 on 3-pointers made, 10 of those 3s and 30 of those points in the fourth quarter alone.

That's the Rockets' most threes in a quarter this season.

Their bench outscored the Wolves' bench 35-14, with Jamal Crawford (11) and Nemanja Bjelica (3) the only Wolves reserves who scored.

That was plenty on a night when Towns and Teague tried to carry their team and teammate Andrew Wiggins didn't make a field goal until the game's final four minutes.

Anderson made six 3s himself and Harden matched that number when he scored 17 of his 34 points in the final quarter alone.

Just Sunday, Teague talked about becoming more playmaker than scorer for a Wolves team that has Towns, Wiggins and Jimmy Butler, too.

Fourth on the team in scoring with a 12.7 average that's his lowest since his third NBA season, Teague called it a new way to play.

"It's just not how I play," he said. "But someone has to make a sacrifice and it was me."

Teague had 25 points, including two 3-pointers, by the end of the third quarter and by then the Rockets had turned an early 13-point deficit into an 84-80 lead.

The Rockets pushed their lead to 10 points after the Wolves left shooter Ryan Anderson open for not one, but two 3-point shots.

He made both after the Wolves twice pulled within four points and the second one gave the Rockets a 92-82 lead with fewer than 10 minutes left.

The Wolves announced on a Tuesday night in mid-February their 10th sellout of the season, 18,978.

Before Tuesday's game, Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau was asked about Harden and Thibodeau called him, "clever, strong, powerful."

D'Antoni wasn't about to argue.

"Clever, good, talented," D'Antoni said. "Yeah, there are a lot of things he is. Clever, definitely. He's one of the most unique offensive players I've ever seen. To be able to do what he does and still main his balance and strength, I don't know how he can stay on course and look for things and figure it out.

"I could throw the ball out of the gym, but there's no way I could ever do that. Whatever it is, he's good at it."

The first time these teams played, Harden scored just 10 points and played but 25 minutes in his first game back from a hamstring injury last month in Houston.

On Tuesday, he made just three of his first nine shots from the field-one of three 3-pointers-and scored seven points in a first half when his team trailed by 13 points early and led by 54-50 at intermission.

Then he scored eight points in the third quarter's first three minutes. Included were two 3-point shots, one a 28-foot heave just as the shot clock was expiring.

With him scoring and then passing to Paul for a layup, the Rockets pushed their lead to 65-57 early in the third quarter after the Wolves had pulled within two points in the third's opening minute.

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