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Houston sweep? Nope – Minnesota elevates game to stay alive

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Minneapolis, MN — The eighth-seed Minnesota Timberwolves made sure their first postseason appearance in 14 years didn’t end in a clean sweep.

Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns combined for 46 points, and three other Wolves scored in double-figures to lead Minnesota to a 121-105 victory over the top-seeded Houston Rockets on Saturday, giving them their first postseason win since 2004.

“There was a lot of energy in the building,” said an enthusiastic Butler. “We came out here and we executed, but in the end, we won. That’s what matters.”

Despite being the first home appearance in 14 years for Minnesota, the team came out strong in the first quarter.

On the other hand, the Houston Rockets had a rough start. They won the tip-off, but struggled throughout the opening period to get a steady rhythm going early.

James Harden started the game being slightly too aggressive rather than taking control of the game. He was forcing shots which weren’t being knocked down as Minnesota raced down the court off his missed shots.

The Rockets’ struggles fired up the Timberwolves’ crowd – just like Butler wanted. The All-Star was often throwing his arms up in the air to encourage more noise from the crowd.

Butler’s goal was to be ultra-aggressive and to get both his team and the crowd involved tonight. He showed how hungry he was for the victory by finishing with 28 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. His aggression on both offense and defense was just what the Timberwolves needed tonight.

Even with Butler on top of his game, his teammates also stepped up to ensure Minnesota didn’t go down 3-0 in the series.

Timberwolves secret weapon

The 2011 NBA MVP, Derrick Rose, literally ‘rose’ to the occasion as well with 10 straight points coming off the bench in the second frame. He brought a sense of urgency in with him to spark his team. He finished the game with 17 points in only 21 minutes of playing time.

Towns, after only scoring a combined 14 points in the first two games, went off on Saturday, scoring 18 points and pulling down 16 rebounds to go along with three assists and two blocks.  The Timberwolves also saw Andrew Wiggins play a strong game as he too, had a 20-point performance, pulled down five rebounds, and dished out five assists.

Jeff Teague also finished in double figures scoring with 23 points and added eight assists.

The Timberwolves will need to come out just as strong and focused in order to get a second home win on Wednesday night if they plan to tie things up before heading back to Houston.

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