By: Seth Toupal
The Wolves headed into Game Four of their series against the Rockets hoping to carry momentum from their monumental win in Game 3. The Rockets had shown flashes of the dominant team they were throughout the regular season during the series but hadn’t put together a completely dominant game, yet alone a dominant quarter.
That all changed in Game 4.
The Rockets turned a one-point advantage into a lead they would never relinquish after a 50 point onslaught in the third quarter. Don’t let the final 119-100 score fool you. What was a 50-49 score at the half quickly ballooned to a 100-69 deficit after three. The Rockets came out for blood in the second half and looked like a team that was tired of the Wolves continuing to hang around in the series. James Harden found his MVP form, Eric Gordon finally came alive and the Wolves were unable to stop the bleeding in the 3rd quarter.
The biggest keys to the Game 3 win for the Wolves was matching 3’s with the Rockets and playing engaged defensively. The Wolves struggled from three throughout the game and their defense came unglued in the 3rd quarter. This was a showing from the Rockets we were hoping would never come. We were hoping that maybe they would continue to struggle and we would be able to grind out a close win at home and head back to Houston tied 2-2.
It's hard to really put into words even the day after what we saw from the Rockets. They simply hit another gear that the Wolves couldn't match. It wasn't so much the Wolves doing anything poorly. They had put together a good first half, but Houston came out hot and once the shots started falling there wasn't anything the Wolves could do about it.
Derrick Rose continued his resurgence with another strong game. Karl-Anthony Towns was once again actively involved in the game plan despite early foul trouble. But Andrew Wiggins struggled for the first time in the series from the field. And Jeff Teague was not able to match his Game 3 swagger. As quickly as momentum had been grabbed the previous game, it was snuffed out in Game Four just as quickly.
But that is what we expected from the beginning isn't it? The Rockets were the better team, a matchup nightmare for the Wolves. And yet, the Wolves are still alive heading into Game Five. The message seems clear for the Wolves: Just keep winning.
Seth is host of The Scoop on KLGR Radio out of Redwood Falls, Minnesota. Listen to episodes of The Scoop here.