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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Up next: The Aggies face Mississippi State. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Two weeks after the season seemed like it had come to an ugly end only in week two for the Aggies, they are right back in the thick of things. Now I already know what you’re thinking as you read that last sentence. As much as A&M fans would like to forget the Appalachian State loss, myself included, it's not going anywhere. Even though Texas A&M has defeated back-to-back top 15 nationally ranked opponents, the easy and well-deserved knock on this squad is, “they lost to App State”. An App State team that is a Hail Mary away from being only 2-2 might I add. However, these past two weeks for the Ags have shown that positive things can come from your biggest disappointments.

Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies had two options after that App State loss. One, admit that they just didn't have it this year in week two, settle for another 8-4 or worse year and try again next season. Or, take a long look in the mirror, realize some uncomfortable decisions had to be made and try to make a statement moving forward. I believe they chose option two because the Aggies have rattled off wins against #13 Miami and #10 Arkansas in back-to-back weeks. Now I’m willing to admit Miami probably didn’t deserve that ranking after falling to Middle Tennessee State. But the weight of that game was felt by all Aggies, especially Head Coach Jimbo Fisher.

This past week the Maroon and White were able to knock out a really good and really experienced Arkansas Razorback team. After starting slow and sloppy, which has unfortunately become a trend for this Texas A&M team, the Aggies found some rhythm on offense after an explosive Devon Achane 63-yard run. The defense was solid once again showing the bend don't break mentality, best exemplified when Chris Russell Jr. knocked the ball out of KJ Jefferson’s hands at the goal line. Tyreek Chappell and Demani Richardson then turned that fumble recovery into six points on a wacky scoop and score. The Hogs didn't go away quietly though, as they found themselves lining up for a game-winning field goal with 90 seconds left on the clock. What followed is what will forever be known by the Aggies as the “Oink Doink” as Texas A&M got their season back on track.

The next 2 games will make or break A&M’s season, however, as they will travel to Starkville for the first true road game of the year against Mississippi State. Then to Tuscaloosa to face off against Alabama for possibly the most anticipated SEC matchup of the season. If the Ags can somehow manage to go 2-0 in this stretch they will without a doubt find themselves back in the top 10 and in the playoff conversation once again. This Saturday's afternoon matchup with the Bulldogs will be the toughest test yet for Jimbo and his Aggies. Quarterback Will Rogers can sling it and the defense is very experienced throughout. Max Johnson has been solid for the Ags but hasn't lit up the stat sheet by any means, so it will be interesting to see if Mississippi State turns this into a shootout, or if A&M keep this a defensive battle like most of their games have been so far. My feeling is the Aggies have a breakout offensive performance and win this one 30-24, to set up a huge showdown with Alabama and Nick Saban in week six.

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