• There’s no shame is losing to the Houston Rockets. They’re arguably the one team with a legitimate chance of overthrowing the Warriors to represent the Western Conference in the Finals. Their offense is relentless, potent and deflating. Their defense can get consistent stops when it needs to.

    The Wolves fared admirably in this contest. They only led for about 18 total minutes, the first 18 minutes of the game, but managed to stick around with the Rockets for the majority of the game, typically within 10 points and often within five.

    Minnesota was doing about as good of a job slowing down Houston’s offense as one could ask for, especially given the shambles their own defense has been in of late. The Wolves were still giving up 3-pointers, but at a reasonable clip of just 33 percent at halftime, 7-of-21 overall.

    The defense somewhat held together in the third quarter, though showed signs of leaking after the Rockets scored 30 points. The Wolves were hanging right in there though, trailing by just four points.

    Every blow Houston was giving to Minnesota they just dealt right back. It wasn’t a signature high-scoring affair that was anticipated, but both teams were playing well and exciting basketball.

    Then the fourth quarter happened.

    In a four point game with 7:40 remaining the Rockets dealt their ultimate knockout punch. It was a rapid fire barrage from deep, four consecutive 3-pointers within 1-minute 50-seconds. Ryan Anderson kicked it off with back-to-back makes, followed by a P.J. Tucker corner job off an offensive rebound capped off by a deep Harden trey.

    Suddenly the Wolves were down 16 points and utterly defeated. They tried to muster up some energy but the relentlessness of the Rockets was just too much to withstand. The team started trading two’s for three’s and the deficit wasn’t closing whatsoever.

    In the second half the Rockets shot 15-26 from deep and 9-of-15 in the fourth. The Wolves shot 6-of-23 for the entire game.

    Throughout the contest, the Wolves did a fine job of defending and preventing the Rockets from getting into a grove like they did in the fourth. They avoided the quick strikes and flood of points and it kept their deliberate, two-point based offense in the game an able to strike.

    When that changed in an instant, all was lost. The Wolves don’t have the firepower to keep pace with a run like that, and they don’t have the defense to be able to get enough stops in a row to reach it conventionally.

    The Wolves have fared okay versus teams that shoot the deep-ball well. Versus the top-8 3-point shooting teams in the Western Conference (eight because eight playoff teams), the Wolves are 15-6. Against the top-10 overall 3-point shooting teams, the Wolves are just 9-11. Against the most important top-2 teams though, they’re 0-4.

    The Wolves had a couple of tremendous individual performances. Karl-Anthony Towns and Jeff Teague were the leaders in this contest, combining for 60 points.

    Towns led with 35 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, one steal, three blocks and two 3-pointers. He shot 12-of-16 from the field, 2-of-3 from the arc and 9-of-9 from the line. He was a beast and wasn’t fazed by Capela at all, much like their last meeting.

    Teague went for 25 points, eight assists, five rebounds and two 3-pointers on 10-of-15 shooting overall, 2-of-3 from the arc and 3-of-3 at the line. The Rockets didn’t seem to gameplan for him that much and he took advantage of some overplaying on the perimeter by driving into the lane. Capela was glued to Towns so he had an easy time.

    The same cannot be said for Jimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins, who each had poor overall games.

    Butler had 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists, but shot only 5-of-13 overall and 0-of-3 from the arc. Wiggins was a brutal 2-of-14 for seven points, three rebounds and one block. He made his last two shots, the first coming with 4:05 left in the game.

    This game is less disappointing in itself, but more so on the broad spectrum. The teams played an entertaining game and the ultimate loss is nothing to be ashamed of given the Rockets’ overwhelming skill. That is what makes the grand picture more disappointing, though, at the same time.

    The Wolves have now played four games against the Rockets and Warriors, and the gap between them and the Wolves is so incredibly wide with little moves to be had to close it. The expectation to compete at the level was certainly, from an outsider’s point of view (that is not the team’s), not there. Many knew the Wolves weren’t going to be at that level.

    With that in mind it’s important to appreciate the greatness on display and, despite the Wolves not being there just yet, have reason to believe that they can attain that level themselves down the road.

    The Wolves certainly have the talent to do so, all they need is time.

    Up next they’ll close out the unofficial “first half” before the All-Star break by hosting the Lakers. The Wolves broke their 13-game home win streak tonight, so they’ll look to start another up.

Fantasy News

  • Marcus Derrickson
    PF, Atlanta Hawks

    The Hawks signed Marcus Derrickson to an Exhibit 10 contract on Friday.

    It looks like Derrickson will be a G-League option for the Hawks, so there's nothing to see here. At one point he was competing for the last roster spot on the team. We don't need to keep of track of every computer-generated player.

    Source: Chris Vivlamore on Twitter

  • Marreese Speights
    C, Free Agent

    Marreese Speights will work out for the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday according to Alex Kennedy of Hoopshype.

    Speights spent last year playing in China and will attempt his NBA comeback with the Lakers. who are in desperate need of an additional center. He is among three centers the Lakers are looking into, the others being Dwight Howard and Joakim Noah. Of those three, Speights unquestionably has the best floor spacing ability, which would be his strongest bet to eke out those other two for the job.

    Source: Alex Kennedy on Twitter

  • Trevor Booker
    PF, International

    Trevor Booker has worked out for the Nuggets and has workouts planned with the Bucks and Clippers, according to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype.

    Booker was out of the NBA in 2018-19, spending the season in China after he didn't get any offers in free agency. He did return to the US to undergo a procedure on his foot but is apparently fully recovered. The last time we saw Booker he split 68 games between the Nets, Sixers and Pacers in 2017-18. If he does make a successful comeback he'll have no fantasy relevance.

    Source: Alex Kennedy on Twitter

  • John Henson
    PF, Cleveland Cavaliers

    In a recent Q & A on Cleveland.com, beat writer Chris Fedor said that the Cavs are "excited" to have a healthy John Henson.

    Henson underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist last November and missed the rest of the season. He was limited to 14 games with Milwaukee before getting traded to the Cavs, averaging 5.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in 13.4 minutes per game. The Cavs do have a crowded rotation at center with Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. all candidates to see minutes, but Henson gives them an element of rim protection and could factor in. He's a name to remember for deep-league owners hunting blocks.

    Source: Cleveland.com

  • Robert Covington
    SF, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Robert Covington (right knee bone bruise) will reportedly be "good to go" for the start of training camp in October.

    Well, this is good news that we didn't hope we would need. Covington played 35 games last year and couldn't get over the bone bruise injury that kept him out for a majority of the year. We expected him to be ready to go, and the fact that we're even discussing this is slightly less than ideal.

    Source: Dane Moore on Twitter

  • Kemba Walker
    PG, Boston Celtics

    Team USA has named Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart and Donovan Mitchell as captains for the FIBA World Cup.

    Congratulations to Mitchell, Walker and Smart on the tremendous honor of being named captains for the USA men's team. This won't have any impact on their upcoming fantasy seasons, but it is a major accomplishment nonetheless. Team USA has an exhibition rematch against Team Australia on Saturday.

    Source: Boston.com Celtics News on Twitter

  • Isaiah Canaan
    PG, International

    Isaiah Canaan has signed a contract with the Shangdong Heroes of the Chinese Basketball Association.

    The veteran journeyman played for the Suns, Wolves and Bucks last season, appearing in 30 games total. Canaan will be looking at a more prominent role and payday overseas as he attempts to build his value back up before trying to latch on to a team towards the end of the year. Canaan is off the fantasy radar.

    Source: Zhang Duo on Twitter

  • Patty Mills
    PG, San Antonio Spurs

    Patty Mills put up 19 points, three assists, two steals, a block and three 3-pointers in Thursday's international exhibition between Team Australia and Team USA.

    The Boomers figure to be one of the chief threats to the Americans in the World Cup and put forth a competitive effort in today's exhibition. Mills has typically been a steady, late-round fantasy option for deep-league play but that may change this season as the Spurs will need to mix in both Derrick White and Dejounte Murray in the backcourt. Chris Goulding tied for the team lead in points, also scoring 19 while hitting four 3-pointers in 22 minutes off the bench.

  • Myles Turner
    C, Indiana Pacers

    Myles Turner put up 15 points and 14 rebounds in Thursday's exhibition win over Team Australia, shooting 6-of-8 from the floor with a 3-pointer.

    Turner didn't get any blocks but we know that last year's league-leader can rack those up in a hurry, whether he's getting them in international competition or not. Look for another early-middle round season out of the talented big man. Kemba Walker led Team USA with 23 points in the 102-86 win.

  • Trevon Bluiett
    PF, Utah Jazz

    Trevon Bluiett and Juwan Morgan sign with the Jazz in the hopes of one day playing in an NBA game.

    Bluiett was on a two-way contract with the Pelicans last season while Juwan Morgan played for the Jazz in the 2019 Summer League. They will both compete for a roster spot in training camp but neither is a guarantee to make the final roster. They both have yet to see the court in an NBA game and can be ignored from a fantasy perspective until that day comes.

    Source: Tony Jones on Twitter