StaTuesday: Wolves’ defense dominated 4th vs. Rockets
It was the first meeting between the two teams since the Rockets knocked off the Wolves in five games in the first round of last year’s playoffs.
And while this isn’t the James Harden-led juggernaut of last season (the Rockets have lost five straight and are now 11-12), these Wolves look a little different, too.
Minnesota stormed back after falling behind 62-45 at the half, holding the Rockets to just 29 points in the second half and just nine in the fourth quarter.
It was just the 16th time in the Wolves’ history that they’ve held an opponent to nine points or fewer in a single quarter.
|Dec. 3, 2018||vs. Rockets||4th||17||9||8||W 103-91|
|Nov. 28, 2018||vs. Spurs||2nd||29||9||20||W 128-89|
|Dec. 3, 2014||vs. 76ers||2nd||21||9||12||L 77-85|
|Jan. 18, 2014||vs. Jazz||2nd||28||9||19||W 98-72|
|Jan. 1, 2011||vs. Nets||3rd||23||9||14||W 103-88|
|Dec. 6, 2007||at Hawks||3rd||27||8||19||L 89-90|
|Dec. 23, 2006||at Pacers||3rd||17||8||9||W 78-71|
|April 6, 2005||vs. Jazz||1st||31||8||23||W 111-86|
|Dec. 14, 2002||vs. Trail Blazers||4th||17||9||8||L 92-98 (OT)|
|Nov. 10, 2001||at Bucks||1st||28||9||19||W 98-82|
|Mar. 20, 1998||vs. Nuggets||3rd||18||8||10||W 104-88|
|Feb. 19, 1997||at Grizzlies||3rd||30||7||23||W 84-73|
|Nov. 10, 1996||at Clippers||3rd||14||8||6||L 70-81|
|Nov. 23, 1994||vs. Hawks||2nd||24||6||18||L 77-89|
|March 1, 1994||at Hawks||4th||30||8||22||L 99-102|
|Dec. 13, 1989||vs. Mavericks||4th||16||9||7||L 87-90|
It was also the second time they’ve done it in the past week.
The Wolves locked down on defense during the second quarter of a 128-89 win over the San Antonio Spurs last week, holding the Spurs to nine points.
They’ve done it just four times in the fourth quarter, the last time occurring in 2002.
The upshot to all this: After years of subpar defensive play, Minnesota has emerged as a force on the defensive end in 11 games since dealing Butler to the Philadelphia 76ers for Robert Covington and Dario Saric.
The Wolves have a defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) of 101.2 in 11 games since the Butler trade, second to only the Oklahoma City Thunder over that span.
That’s after finishing with a defensive rating no better than 25th in four straight seasons.
If it continues, that might be enough to push the Wolves into playoff contention, even in the crowded Western Conference.
Minnesota was in eighth as recently as Friday, fell to 13th following a loss to the Boston Celtics on Saturday and rose to 10th with a win on Monday.