NBA PLAYOFFS

Fred Faour: 5 thoughts on the Rockets 102-82 win over the Timberwolves in Game 2

Chris Paul bounced back with a terrific Game 2. Bob Levey/Getty Images

In Game 2 we saw the Rockets team that many believe can unseat Golden State. The Rockets overcame a bad first quarter, then started playing like a team that can win an NBA title. The result was an easy 102-82 win over the Timberwolves. The Rockets now lead two games to none in the best of seven series.

Here are five quick thoughts from the Rockets Game 2 win:

1) This is a bad matchup for Minnesota. The Wolves' best chance might have been in Game 1, when the Rockets could not hit 3s. When the Rockets play like they did Wednesday and get a big lead, the Wolves simply do not have the horses to keep up. Minnesota is a good young team, but they do not have the ability to match the Rockets' 3s with with 2s. Karl-Anthony Towns had all of 8 points in Game 1. In game 2? Only 5 points. He should be a mismatch the Wolves can exploit. He has been anything but and Clint Capela outplayed him in both games. Capela scored just 8 but on 4 of 6 shooting and had 16 rebounds to 10 for Towns. The Wolves can not win like that.

2) Jimmy Butler does not appear to be right. The Rockets defense was terrific on Wednesday, and Butler struggled for the second game in a row. He finished with 11 points on 3 of 6 shooting. He battled injuries late in the season and he did not appear to be 100 percent in either of the first two games. Unless he is healthy, the Wolves have no shot at even winning a game in this series. 

3) Gerald Green was a game-changer. In the first quarter, the Rockets looked very much like they did in Game 1. They could not hit open 3s. They turned the ball over. They were incredibly lucky to be down just 23-18 heading to the second. Then Green entered the game, started draining 3s, and the Rockets outscored the Wolves 37-17 in the second quarter to take command of the game. Green had 12 points in the quarter and would finish with 21. 

4) Star power shuffle. James Harden was terrific in Game 1, and Chris Paul struggled. This time, Harden could not buy a shot -- he was 2 of 18 for 12 points. But Paul was much better in Game 2 with 27 points, 8 assists and strong defense. The rest of the team stepped up, but the Rockets proved they could dominate with Harden shooting poorly as long as Paul showed up. He did. 

5) 3-mendous. The Rockets will live and die by the three. In Game 1, they almost died, hitting just 10 of 37 (3 of 25 if your name was not Harden). They weren't great on Wednesday, but they hit 16 of 52 for 30 percent. The Wolves had just 5 3s. If that continues, this one is over in four.

This game looked more like what Rockets fans were expecting in the series. They were far from perfect, but pretty good is enough against this Wolves team. Neither team shot particularly well, and at times the game was downright ugly. The Rockets can be much better than this offemsively, and they still won by 20. Unless Minnesota has some tricks up its sleeve, it is hard to see this one going deeper than five games.

 

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The Texans didn't have an answer for Derrick Henry. Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Romeo Crennel made a valorous call that might have costed the Houston Texans from winning their second consecutive game on Sunday. Up by seven with 1:50 left in the fourth quarter, Crennel decided to call a two-point conversion following Deshaun Watson's one-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks.

During the two-point conversion, Watson had a look at an open Randall Cobb, but Titans' defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons got a hand on the ball to deflect the pass. The failed conversion allowed the Titans to take a 42-36 victory over the Texans inside Nissan Stadium. Tennessee scored 13 unanswered points, which included a seven-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill to A.J. Brown to send the game into overtime.

"I think I would do it again," Crennel said during his media availability on Monday. "You are on the road against a divisional opponent who is undefeated, and if you could get that two-point conversion — you shut the door on them. We had a guy open, but unfortunately, the ball got tipped and we did not make it. I would do it again because it was a good choice."

The decision to not kick the field goal caused somewhat of an uproar, but it is understandable why Crennel made the call. Crennel had faith in Watson to put the Texans in a position to close the game, similar to his 4th-and-4 call during last week's victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In the end, Crennel's risky decisions could stem from the lack of faith he has in the Texans' depleted defense.

Houston's defense hit an all-time low against the Titans. They gave up a franchise-worst 601 total yards — with Derrick Henry accounting for 212 yards on 22 carries. But despite their struggles against the run, the Texans' secondary were just as faulty. They gave up a total of 338 yards through the air and allowed Tannehill to go 8-for-9 down the field during the Titans' final drive of regulation.

Had Houston's defense made a stop during the closing seconds of the fourth quarter, the Texans could have ended the game 2-0 under their interim head coach.

"I wanted to go ahead and get the two points — I felt like that would have put the game out of reach for them," Crennel said. "If we had gotten it, we would have been in much better shape. But we did not get it. We did not perform well in overtime, and they [Titans] won the game."

Following Sunday's heartbreaking loss, Texans safety Justin Reid said it best, "Had we converted on the two-point conversion, this would be a totally different conversation. So it is what it is."

Up next, the 1-5 Texans will look to bounce back from defeat against the 4-1 Green Bay Packers, inside NRG Stadium on Sunday. Kick-off is at 12:00 PM CT.

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