April 19, 2018, 1:40 am
If there was one thing the Wolves drastically improved from Game 1 to Game 2, it was shutting down the two players who did the most damage against them.
James Harden went for 12 points on 2-of-18 shooting, while Clint Capela scored just eight points. Surely after the Wolves nearly beat the Rockets on Sunday with Harden and Capela combining for 68 points the Wolves would be in fantastic shape this time out, right?
Not quite. On a night where Harden and Capela struggled to score and the Wolves hold the Rockets to just 36.5 percent shooting, Houston still managed to blow out the Wolves 102-82.
It was frankly a disappointing performance from everyone involved. Karl-Anthony Towns scored five points and now has just 13 in two games. Jimmy Butler is clearly playing through a lot of pain in his right wrist. Jeff Teague struggled with foul trouble in the first half and hardly played in the second when the game got out of reach.
Andrew Wiggins was the lone bright spot with 13 points, eight rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block. When that’s the best line of the starting unit, it’s obvious the team had a long night.
The Wolves’ offense was completely shut down, and coming off a game where the coach and players seemed to be on a different page this was certainly a harrowing sign. In between Game 1 and Game 2, Tom Thibodeau and Teague had opposing views on how the offense was executed in the first game.
It’s never a good sign when a player, especially a starting point guard, is preaching a different approach than the head coach. It’s not a good sign in the offseason, the regular season and certainly not the postseason. Who knows if they reached common ground in practice, but after an offensive effort like this, it’s not going to instill much confidence.
The Wolves had a pretty nice start to the game, at least for the first few minutes. The team was executing their plays like they were practicing. The writing was on the wall, though. The team shot 39.1 percent from the field in the first quarter, which turned out to be an indicator of what was to come.
The rotations got jumbled slightly and the effect was a discombobulated affair. Thibs, known for his stubbornness, rolled with the small ball lineup for far too long (Jamal Crawford, Derrick Rose, Jeff Teague and Jimmy Butler). Throughout the season a bad lineup would throw the Wolves out of sync for extended stretches where even the starters had trouble getting back into the right tempo.
For the entire night the Wolves shot 38.8 percent and looked disconnected from any sort of offensive rhythm. The Wolves scored just 35 points in the second and third quarters combined, and by the time the fourth rolled around, Thibs waived the white flag by starting five bench players and letting them loose the rest of the way.
Extracting positives out of this game is tough, but there can at least be some credit for the defense. Houston is now shooting just 41.3 percent from the field through two games, including just 29.2 percent from 3-point range. So far it’s been about the only thing the Wolves have done right this series.
Down 2-0 the Wolves head home to host their first playoff game since 2004. If the team can bring the same intensity on the defensive end and settle in on their home floor on the offensive end, perhaps the Wolves can get a win.
The Rockets have certainly looked beatable in these first two games, but the Wolves’ offensive execution has just been lacking more than at any point this season. Right now no one is safe from the blame. Everyone, from Thibs to the players, needs to be better.
April 25, 2019, 11:00 pmJakob Poeltl - C - San Antonio Spurs
Jakob Poeltl shot 4-for-6 from the field for eight points with nine boards, two assists and one block in 28 minutes for a 120-103 win over the Nuggets in Game 6 on Thursday.
Poeltl was not able to shut down Nikola Jokic (43 points) but it didn't matter, as the Spurs shot 57.1 percent from the field to blow out the Nuggets. The Spurs will head to Denver for a winner-take-all affair in Game 7 on Saturday.
April 25, 2019, 10:54 pmGary Harris - G - Denver Nuggets
Gary Harris scored 14 points in Game 6 against the Spurs on Thursday night as the Nuggets fell 120-103.
Harris scored a few points in this one but didn't do a whole lot else. The Nuggets will probably need him to have more of a visible imprint on the game to make major noise.
April 25, 2019, 10:53 pmDerrick White - G - San Antonio Spurs
Derrick White shot 4-for-7 from the floor for 13 points with one rebound, two assists, two blocks and two 3-pointers in 27 minutes against the Nuggets on Thursday.
White wasn't particularly effective on the stat sheet in Game 6, but his grit and solid defense helped the Spurs secure a win on their home floor. He limited his turnovers to just one in this game. White will need to stay efficient in a decisive Game 7 on Saturday in Denver.
April 25, 2019, 10:49 pmPaul Millsap - F - Denver Nuggets
Paul Millsap was almost a non-factor on Thursday night scoring just 12 points and adding four boards in heavy minutes.
Millsap has to be better for this team to make any major noise deep in the playoffs. He just hasn't been back to his normal self for long stretches this year, so here's to hoping he can find form.
April 25, 2019, 10:49 pmRudy Gay - F - San Antonio Spurs
Rudy Gay shot 7-for-11 for 19 points with four boards, two assists, two blocks and three 3-pointers in 28 minutes against the Nuggets on Thursday.
After being a non-factor for much of the series, Gay played extra efficient as a savvy veteran on Thursday night. He led the bench in scoring and helped set the tone to force a Game 7. Gay will need another game like this if the Spurs want any chance of surviving in Denver.
April 25, 2019, 10:43 pmDeMar DeRozan - G - San Antonio Spurs
DeMar DeRozan shot 12-for-16 from the field for 25 points with seven assists and seven boards in 36 minutes to force a Game 7 against the Nuggets on Thursday.
DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge (26 points and 10 rebounds) took it to the Nuggets for their final home game of the opening round. For a team not making much noise in the regular season, all eyes will be on the Spurs and Nuggets Game 7 on Saturday. Never count out Pop and the Spurs.
April 25, 2019, 10:42 pmJamal Murray - G - Denver Nuggets
Jamal Murray scored just 16 points (7-of-19 from the floor) on Thursday in the Game 6 loss to the Spurs.
Murray was quiet in this one as the Nuggets tried to close it out. He did manage six assists but Nikola Jokic is going to need some help from his supporting cast to cement a date with Portland.
April 25, 2019, 10:37 pmNikola Jokic - C - Denver Nuggets
Nikola Jokic scored a career-high 43 points and approached a triple-double with 12 rebounds and nine assists in Thursday's Game 6 loss.
It was a waste of a great performance from Jokic as the Nuggets couldn't close out the Spurs in Game 6. Home cookin' might be just what the doctor ordered.
April 25, 2019, 10:34 pmLaMarcus Aldridge - F - San Antonio Spurs
LaMarcus Aldridge shot 10-for-18 from the field for 26 points with 10 boards, five assists, one block and one 3-pointer in 37 minutes to avoid elimination against the Nuggets on Thursday.
Aldridge was terrific all night, using home court advantage to play with energy. He took matters into his own hands, forcing a Game 7 on Saturday in Denver. Expect Aldridge to be giving his best effort on a winner-take-all affair.
April 25, 2019, 5:58 pmJeff Hornacek - Team - New York Knicks
The Kings have interviewed Jeff Hornacek for an assistant coach position.
The Kings have already hired their head coach, Luke Walton. However, with Walton's status up in the air with the recent allegations made against him, the Kings would do well to hire an assistant with head coaching experience. Hornacek last coached for the Knicks before being fired at the end of the 2017-2018 season. His overall record as head coach for the Knicks and the Suns is 161-216.
Source: James Ham on Twitter