Finally: Three takeaways from Monday’s 119-114 win over the Wolves

Jan 23, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green (4) is escorted back to the bench by forward Tari Eason (17) and a team official during the first quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Finally: Three takeaways from Monday’s 119-114 win over the Wolves

The Rockets four-week nightmare is finally over, as they ended their 13-game losing streak with a 119-114 win over the Wolves. The Rockets scored the game’s first nine points, and they were able to overcome multiple Minnesota runs, including an 18-5 burst in the second quarter that put the Rockets down six. Jalen Green scored a career-high 42 points, while Alperen Sengun added 21 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. Houston survived a 31-point game from Anthony Edwards and a 30-point game from D’Angelo Russell.

Jalen Green bounces back

After finishing with 10 points on 3-of-13 shooting and six turnovers on Saturday night, Green lit up the same defense for a career-high 42 points on 15-of-25 shooting. The Rockets guard scored early and often, needing just six shots to score 13 points in the first quarter. He finished the first half with 21 points, and his three at the buzzer gave him 31 points after three quarters.

“He was decisive,” Rockets head coach Stephen Silas said. “I would say there are times previously where he was kind of indecisive as far as what coverages they were playing him or what kind of defense they were playing, and he was just making quick decisions and getting to his spots.”

Green didn’t just shoot the ball, he got to the free throw line and grabbed four rebounds while dishing out eight assists, and he finished with just two turnovers. He even blocked a D’Angelo Russell 3-point attempt. His big night started after he was shoved from behind while in the air by Kyle Anderson, but he was extra motivated after a couple of poor games against Minnesota.

“They held me to (10 and 9 points) already, so I had a chip (on my shoulder) coming in, but that just builds on it a lot more,” Green said

Tari Eason provides a boost

Less than 90 seconds into the game, Eason was on the receiving end of an errant pass from Alperen Sengun. It looked like Wolves guard Anthony Edwards would come away with the loose ball, but Eason stuck with the play, grabbed the basketball while remaining inbounds, and threw down a two-handed dunk to the delight of his teammates.

“The way we started the game, a lot of it was Tari,” Silas said. “He was on the offensive glass. Somehow he just always gets the 50/50 balls and attacking the rim and getting the offensive rebound, the put-backs, so he did a good job.”

Eason made his second NBA start on Monday and accounted for six of the Rockets’ points as they jumped out to a 9-0 lead. He finished with 7 points, four rebounds, 2 assists, and a block in the first quarter as part of an 11-point, 9 rebound, 3 assist, 2 block game.

“Tari came out with a lot of energy,” Green said. “He’s a big energy guy for us, always talking to us, trying to motivate us all the time, so that’s super big that he came out, brought that energy, and I think us as a (starting) five fed off that.”

Overcoming sloppy play

21.8 percent of the Rockets’ possessions against the Wolves through three games ended in a turnover, leading to 90 points. That didn’t improve on Monday. The Rockets gave the ball away 23 times for their fourth 20-plus turnover against the Wolves in as many games, leading to 19 points. Nine of their turnovers came in the fourth quarter.

The Rockets also made life tougher than it needed to be by missing 10 of the 30 free throw attempts. The Rockets did a lot of good things at the offensive end of the floor on Monday night, but the little things need to be cleaned up before big gains can be made.

Next up

The Rockets will continue their three-game homestand when they take on the Washington Wizards Wednesday night.

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