For the first time since 2004, the Timberwolves hosted an NBA playoff game, and the fans let the team know how excited they were to have them back. The team responded with another gift, their first playoff win in the same span.

    This win wasn’t an ordinary victory, either. This was a pounding, an unabashed blitz on the Houston Rockets leading to a 121-105 celebration. The Wolves struggled mightily in the first two games of this series to find any semblance of offense. It was two of their worst performances of the entire season in back-to-back games.

    They didn’t have that problem tonight, though. They ripped the monkey off their back thanks to a 3-point bombardment and aggressive takes inside the paint. The Wolves shot like the Golden State Warriors, en route to a dominating performance.

    It was a taste of the Rockets’ own medicine, but the Wolves were more efficient in the process. They made 15 3-pointers, as many as the Rockets did, but in just 27 attempts compared to 41 on Houston’s end.

    Shooting like that was a welcome sight for a team that made just 13 (of 41!) in the first two games. The biggest relief in this game, though, was the arrival of Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler.

    The duo struggled mightily in the first two games of the series, combining for 18.5 points on 17.5 shots per game and never were seemingly effective on the offensive end of the floor. Each came out firing in this one, with Butler going for 28 points and KAT dropping 18.

    Butler had a typical regular season line with seven rebounds, five assists, one steal and four 3-pointers to add to his 28 points. He shot 10-of-19 from the field and 4-of-6 from the line. There was a scary moment in the third quarter where Butler went down on his ankle awkwardly, and he hobbled over to the bench. The Wolves called a timeout and he returned to the game, showing minimal ill-effects. It could be worth noting going forward, though.

    Towns, meanwhile, added 16 rebounds, three assists, one steal, two blocks and one 3-pointer to his line, shaking off the demons of Games 1 and 2 and coming out with energy and passion that wasn’t present.

    He was quite charismatic on the floor, playing into his element on the big stage. Towns is a bright lights kid and relishes in the spotlight. In the first two games he was humbled, but showed everyone why he’s still one of the best bigs in the NBA, coming off on of the most efficient seasons in NBA history.

    He was poking the bear that is James Harden throughout the night, making it known that the Wolves have arrived and don’t intend to go anywhere.

    This energy was not there in Houston, and the Wolves welcomed it back with open arms.

    The evening wasn’t solely about KAT and Butler, though. Andrew Wiggins continued his high level of play, but instead of being the salvaging factor in a tough loss, he was the willing recipient of many open looks. Wiggins scored 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting with five rebounds, five assists, one steal, one block and four 3-pointers. Two of his 3-pointers came off of Towns kick-outs when he was double-teamed in the post.

    Jeff Teague was a man possessed playing with a fire that was rarely seen in the regular season. Teague is normally a stoic figure on the court, never too high or low. Tonight he was fired up. It was apparent that this game meant a whole lot for the entire organization, the players and the fans.

    Teague finished with 23 points, eight assists, three rebounds, one steal and three 3-pointers on the night, shooting 9-of-14 from the field in the process. Teague has been a key piece for the Wolves against the Rockets all season. He struggled in Game 2 (like just about everyone else), but when he’s aggressive attacking off the dribble, while taking care of the ball, he’s their best bet against Chris Paul.

    The biggest surprise of the night likely came in the form of Derrick Rose, who finished with 17 points off the bench, with two assists, two steals and a 3-pointer. He also shot 8-of-16 from the field. Love him or hate him, he undoubtedly was a major contributor, especially when the Wolves’ starters exited the floor.

    Rose was at his best for the Wolves when he was moving without the ball by cutting in the lane, setting screens and attacking the rim, or running in transition. When Rose deferred playmaking to Teague or Butler, Rose was an excellent piece that allowed the Wolves to pull away. When Tom Thibodeau had Rose running the offense, things stalled noticeably.

    That’s what we should come to expect when the Wolves run out Rose, and Jamal Crawford to an extent. At this point the team need to live with the bad to get the goods, but in a controlled way both guys can still be effective. Crawford is mostly tied to whether he’s hitting his jump shots, but at least Rose can make something happen at the rim.

    Crawford was hitting in the second quarter, making 2-of-4, and Thibs ran with him. Come the second half Crawford was off, and Thibs shied away. Credit for Thibs who typically rolls far too long with his veterans when they are being utilized properly.

    He stuck with Rose because he wasn’t forcing the issue (mostly), just fitting in with the offense and picking his spots wisely. That development is encouraging and it paid off for the Wolves tonight.

    The win forced a Game 5 back in Houston, at least, and the Wolves are hoping they can make the Rockets sweat a little bit by sending the series back tied at 2-2. One thing is for certain, the Wolves have the attention of the Rockets.

Fantasy News

  • Richaun Holmes
    PF, Sacramento Kings

    The Kings have announced the signing of Richaun Holmes.

    Holmes is set to make $10 million over the next two seasons. He'll push for minutes in a crowded frontcourt, but if it's a true meritocracy then he should quickly rise to the front of the pack. Last season he was able to deliver standard-league value in only 16.9 mpg, so he's someone to target late in drafts on the expectation that he gets more burn in Sacramento. It's a potentially messy situation but we have faith that Holmes will make the most of it for fantasy purposes. For the Kings, it's a straight up steal.

    Source: Sacramento Kings

  • Marcus Morris
    PF, New York Knicks

    The Knicks have announced the signings of Marcus Morris and Reggie Bullock.

    Morris is on a one-year, $15 million deal while Bullock is coming in on a two-year deal worth less than $4.7 million annually, with a second season that isn't fully guaranteed. While both players began the offseason as potential standard-league targets, there's not much to see given the sudden depth of the Knicks roster. Morris will be one of five players who should mostly be playing power forward, while Bullock will slot into a busy backcourt and is already expected to miss at least a month of the season. New York's rotations are going to be a mess and we'd steer clear.

    Source: New York Knicks

  • Reggie Bullock
    SG-SF, New York Knicks

    Reggie Bullock is expected to miss at least one month of the regular season, per SNY's Ian Begley.

    Bullock, who initially agreed to a two-year deal worth $21 million, re-worked his contract to clock in at two years (with a second year that isn't fully guaranteed) for under the $4.7 million exception. There's no word on what exactly Bullock is dealing with, though he suffered from neck stiffness and plantar fasciitis in his right foot late last season. There's no need to monitor Bullock in standard leagues to open the year.

    Source: Ian Begley on Twitter

  • Markelle Fultz
    PG, Orlando Magic

    Speaking to Sirius XM, Steve Clifford said that although there remains no timetable for Markelle Fultz (shoulder), he is making good progress.

    Clifford said, "You know, right now we don't have a timetable for when he'll be back, but he's really doing a great job." Fultz simply wasn't ready to suit up, and even though we haven't really had any concrete updates on him since his last game on November 18, we're still expecting him to be ready to start the season. Fultz will make for a late-round flier on the chance that he finally gets healthy and puts it all together.

    Source: Sirius XM NBA Radio on Twitter

  • Blake Griffin
    PF, Detroit Pistons

    Blake Griffin (left knee) has been cleared to start light basketball activities after undergoing arthroscopic surgery in late April.

    Griffin dealt with left knee soreness in the season's final games and missed the first two games of the playoffs. His issues were dealt with quickly after the season ended and he should be ready for the start of the season. Look for Griffin to come off draft boards in the early-middle rounds after he put up a career season last year, though there might not be much profit margin at that price. There's a definite 8-cat lean as well.

    Source: Rod Beard on Twitter

  • Nicolo Melli
    PF, New Orleans Pelicans

    Pelicans forward Nicolo Melli underwent knee surgery and will not participate in Italy’s training camp at the end of July, ahead of the FIBA World Tournament.

    This comes out of nowhere and the only relative information we have is that Melli will be re-evaluated on a week-to-week basis. The Italian big should be fine for the Pelicans training camp where he will compete for the backup power forward minutes as long as the surgery is not anything too serious.

    Source: Sportando

  • Bam Adebayo
    C, Miami Heat

    Bam Adebayo is envisioning himself as a better all-around player, with averages of 16.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists this upcoming season.

    Adebayo, who turns 22 on Thursday, averaged 8.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 23.3 minutes while playing in all 82 of the Heat’s games last season. With the Heat trading center Hassan Whiteside to the Blazers earlier this month, Adebayo is expected to be the clear-cut choice at starting center and a fantasy breakout candidate.

    Source: Miami Herald

  • Reggie Bullock
    SG-SF, New York Knicks

    Reggie Bullock has agreed to sign a two-year deal with the Knicks for less than the $4.7 million exception.

    It was reported that Bullock intitally had an offer for two years and $20 million so this is a considerable drop on the monetary terms. The two parties had to rework their agreement after unanticipated health issues that almost made the deal fall through. This is also the end of the domino that had Marcus Morris back off his initial agreement with the Spurs and sign a deal with the Knicks instead. New York seems to be loaded in the forward positions and it’s anyone’s guess who earns the minutes to become fantasy relevant next year.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Dragan Bender
    PF, Phoenix Suns

    As Dragan Bender continues to explore the NBA market, the Cavs and the Raptors are among the teams that have inquired about the former lottery pick.

    The European market also remains an option for the Croatian forward as CSKA Moscow and Fenerbache are monitoring his situation. Bender is still only 21 years old and teams around the NBA could still take a chance on him after what has been a disappointing NBA career so far with averages of 5.3 points and 3.8 rebounds in 131 career games.

    Source: Orazio Francesco Cauchi on Twitter

  • Raul Neto
    PG, Philadelphia Sixers

    Raul Neto could end up being Ben Simmons' backup to begin the 2019-20 season.

    Right now, the two candidates to be the backup to starter Ben Simmons are Neto and former two-way player Shake Milton, a second-year combo guard who earned a lot of minutes at the point in the NBA Summer League. Neto started 53 of the 81 games in which he appeared as a rookie in 2015-16, but only started once over the past three seasons. He has averages of 4.8 points, 1.9 assists and 37.7 percent shooting from 3-point range in 14.2 minutes and it’s highly unlikely that he gains fantasy value even if he earns the backup job.

    Source: Bucks County Courier Times