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Feb 3, 2024 6:41 pm

Timberwolves see pattern in losses, don’t want repeat vs. Rockets

The Minnesota Timberwolves will try to bounce back from a fourth-quarter collapse when they host the Houston Rockets Sunday in Minneapolis.

Minnesota is coming off a 108-106 loss against the Orlando Magic on Friday night. The Timberwolves were outscored 28-18 in the fourth quarter to lose at home for only the fifth time in 23 games this season.

Now, Minnesota will try to regroup against a young, talented Houston team that is coming off a dominant 135-106 win against the Toronto Raptors.

Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert said he and his teammates needed to learn from their most recent loss and apply those lessons to Sunday’s test.

Too many turnovers and inconsistency on offense are some of the issues that plagued the team.

“It’s the same story every time,” Gobert said. “I’ve probably said the same thing 10 times out of the 15 losses. Probably 10 of them are the same way. Until we start caring about those things, we’re going to keep getting those games taken away.”

The mood is more positive for the Rockets, who raced to a 37-23 lead against the Raptors on Friday and never looked back. Houston led by 30 points after three quarters and was able to rest its starters during the fourth quarter.

Rockets rookie Cam Whitmore will try to stay hot after scoring a career-high 25 points. Fellow rookie Amen Thompson also posted a career high with 19 points.

Houston coach Ime Udoka praised his two rookies for their emergence.

“I never really questioned their talent level,” Udoka said. “I think for those guys, it’s just the opportunity. I’m happy to see them taking advantage of it.”

Alperen Sengun leads the Rockets with 21.7 points per game and 9.3 rebounds per game this season. Jalen Green ranks second in scoring with 18.4 points, and Fred VanVleet is third with 16.6 points.

Anthony Edwards is the Timberwolves’ top scorer with 25.5 points per game. Karl-Anthony Towns is averaging 22.7 points, and Gobert is third with 13.6 points to go with a team-high 12.5 rebounds per contest.

This is the second of three meetings between the Timberwolves and Rockets this season. Minnesota won the first matchup 122-95 on Jan. 5 in Houston.

Edwards scored 24 points on 8-for-17 shooting to lead the Timberwolves in that first win over the Rockets. Green scored 20 points to pace Houston, and Jabari Smith Jr. narrowly missed out on a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds.

Timberwolves guard Mike Conley said any opponent was capable of beating Minnesota, which meant that he and his teammates could not afford to beat themselves as well.

“For whatever reason, we just tend to make the game harder on ourselves,” Conley said. “Every night, we’re going to be playing against teams that are going to play fast, they’re going to be physical, they’re going to give us their best shot.

“And we’re not good enough yet to have that on-and-off switch where you can just choose when to do it.”

–Field Level Media

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