Porter scores 25 points, Rockets beat Timberwolves 129-107
Kevin Porter Jr. scored 25 points in his return to Houston’s lineup, John Wall had 13 points and 12 assists and the Rockets rebounded to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 129-107 on Saturday night.
On Friday night in the series opener, Houston blew a 29-point, second-half lead and was outscored 22-0 in the final 7:31 of a 107-101 loss. The Rockets came back a night later to win for the second time in four games after a 20-game losing streak.
Kelly Olynyk added 16 points in his first game for Houston after coming over from Miami in the trade for Victor Oladipo. Sterling Brown also had 16 points.
“I didn’t really get comfortable until the last like four minutes or so, maybe six,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. “After what we’ve been going through, it’s hard to feel comfortable, especially after last night when it was 30-10 in the fourth.”
Karl-Anthony Towns had 27 points and 15 rebounds for Minnesota, which trailed by as many as 34 points. Malik Beasley scored 13 points on 4-of-17 shooting in his return following a 12-game suspension.
“Last night wasn’t a great performance from us either until the end, until we got desperate,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said. “Problem is we didn’t really start the game very desperate tonight.”
The Rockets were still short-handed with leading scorer Christian Wood declared out before the game with right ankle soreness. Avery Bradley, who came with Olynyk from Miami, didn’t play as the team determines his physical readiness.
But Houston was clearly motivated after the previous night’s disappointment. Led by their holdover star Wall, the Rockets shot 73.9% in the first quarter and scored 41 points. Wall was particularly vocal and the bench erupted with cheers several times during the pivotal first half.
“We got a little satisfied with the lead late,” Porter said about Friday’s game. “We thought it was over, got satisfied and they made that run. Crazy run, 22-0 run…definitely sweet to get this one.”
Olynyk, who hasn’t practiced with the team, had a quick introduction with 11 points in the quarter and Porter returned with a flourish by scoring seven of the team’s first 14 points in a breakneck pace start.
Minnesota tried to keep pace but was buried under in the second as Houston built a 29-point edge following a 15-4 run in the closing minutes of the half. The Timberwolves shot just 28.6% in the second and had six turnovers.
“It started the first seven possessions when they scored easily,” Finch said. “In the NBA, when a team can score that easily, get their juices flowing and everybody gets into the game, we couldn’t contain the ball. That was the story all night.”
Rockets: Brown scored 14 points in the second and tied a season high with four 3-pointers in the game. … Houston snapped a 10-game road losing streak. … With Olynyk taking Wood’s starting spot at center, Houston used its 30th different starting lineup in 45 games this season.
Timberwolves: A night after passing Kevin Love for second in franchise history for rebounds, Towns passed Andrew Wiggins for second in franchise history in scoring. Towns now has 8,733 points in his career for Minnesota. Kevin Garnett is the leader with 19,201 points. … Josh Okogie missed his third straight game while in the league’s health and safety protocols.
Silas said he’s not concerned about Wood’s injury. Wood did participate in pregame warmups before being declared out.
“I don’t think it’s very serious at all,” Silas said. “I watched him during his pregame warmups and he was moving kind of slow. But it was probably more a function of the back-to-back and him playing a bunch of minutes last night more than a new injury or anything like that.”
Rockets: Host Memphis on Monday night.
Timberwolves: At Brooklyn on Monday night.