Chris Paul led Houston with 27 points, eight dimes, and three steals; Gerald Green posted a double-double of 21 points and 12 rebounds off the bench, Trevor Ariza added 15 points and five boards, while James Harden had a awful shooting night (2-18 FG, 1-10 3PT) and finished the tilt with just 12 points.
While some would argue that having a better 3-point percentage means the Wolves are taking smarter shots, the Rockets have outscored Minnesota by a 206-183 margin through two games, and manage to have the exact same field goal percentage as the Timberwolves despite their 3-pointers falling less consistently.
Minnesota spread the floor when the Rockets would switch their forwards and centers onto Wolves guards, giving guys like Teague and Derrick Rose room to operate and moving Towns, who often had a guard defending him, into the corner. "We wanted him to gain confidence". We want him being aggressive like he was. "We've got to adjust, accordingly".
The concept makes sense, but it rendered Towns virtually moot on the offensive end for much of the night.
Wednesday was a reminder that touches don't always equal production.
When we look at 3-point percentage, the Wolves and Rockets are both led by players that didn't play most of the season: Anthony Brown leads the Wolves, as he made his only attempt in his one appearance this season (but seriously, why didn't he get a look this season?), while Briante Webber shot 44.4 percent for Houston in 13 games this season, averaging just nine minutes and less than two attempts per appearance. Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau, known for leaving his starters in the game no matter the situation, relented early in this one.
Even against single coverage, Towns was pushed out of position and often settled for bad jump shots.
Towns' playoff performances have mirrored his efforts in the Timberwolves' regular-season losses to Memphis, in which he was removed from the equation by the Grizzlies' toughness and execution.
After looking at the film, Thibodeau said Tuesday he thought Towns "made good plays", adding the center "understands what he has to do". You also have to get to positions in which it's hard for them to double-team you. He has to run the floor. Harden also got inside with relative ease, scoring 14 paint points during the game. "That's an energy game". But it never seemed to take hold.
"It's playoffs and it's a different ball game", Towns said. "He's got to get into the gym, man, and work on his game this summer", an odd thing to hear about a player who has put up such gaudy numbers in his first three National Basketball Association seasons.