For 14 quarters, the Rockets searched for their offense. Despite being up 2-0, winning easily in game two, the vaunted offense that dominated the NBA sputtered. They couldn't hit three pointers, they missed layups. Gone were the trademark spurts that left opponents in the dust. It was their defense that kept them in games and had them up 2-1 in Minnesota. Then, the third quarter of game four happened.
In an absolute blur of scoring, the Rockets put up 50 points on the Timberwolves, outscoring them 50-20 in the third quarter, and cruised to an easy 119-100 win to put them up 3-1 coming home for game five. Their 50-point quarter was the second most in any quarter in NBA postseason history behind the 1968 LA Lakers, and the Rockets franchise record.
4. "Wolves in six" chanters.
Not to beat a dead horse, but whoever thought this was a good idea in game three might want to rethink their priorities.
3. Jeff Teague's finger.
The Wolves guard had been fantastic in the first three games of the series, often torching the Rockets with drives down the middle of the lane. In the first half, Teague jammed his finger and he wasn't the same after. He went 1-7 from the field with only 2 points to go with 5 assists and 3 turnovers. Whether it was his finger or Chris Paul's defense, he was not the same guy.
2. T-Wolves defense.
Despite not being a great defensive team in the regular season, the Timberwolves have been respectable this series...until the third quarter. Then, they couldn't stop anything or anyone. Anytime you allow a team to match its 50-point first-half output in the following quarter, you might want to reconsider your defensive strategy.
1. First quarter James Harden Twitter stream.
Harden started the game 0-7 from the floor. After that, he went 12-19 including 5-11 from three for 36 points and a huge effort in the third when he scored 22. By comparison, the Rockets as a team had 21 in the first quarter. Still, the torrent of tweets came fast and furious from NBA fans quick to criticize Harden, who has been much maligned for his playoff shortcomings. Those tweets did not age well.
Playoff Harden in full effect— Sean Howard (@SeanHoward20_) April 24, 2018
4. The Derrick Rose reclamation project.
Maybe he just needed time to heal from all the surgeries. Maybe he needed a change of venue. Whatever it is, Rose looks like a completely different player in Minnesota. In game four, he scored 17 points on 7-11 from the field. He's averaging 15 for the series. It is one of the better storylines from the playoffs thus far.
3. Eric Gordon.
Speaking of reclamation, the guy who shot 44 percent from three from the All-Star break to the end of the season was shooting 23 percent for the series until he went off for 18 points, going 4-10 from three in game four. It was nice to see EG finally hit his stride. The Rockets are going to need him throughout the playoffs.
2. Three point shooting.
The Rockets 37 percent from three (16 makes total) was more in range with their normal shooting percentage from deep. And when they got it rolling, they just poured it on Minnesota. This is the type of offense we are accustomed to seeing from the Rockets. They did it for nearly all 82 games in the regular season and, at some point, they were going to have to progress to the mean.
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1. Game six ticket holders.
I wouldn't count on it, Wolves fans.
Bonus: The guy who created this masterpiece...