Indianapolis Star
National Basketball Association
Preview
Houston at Minnesota
When: 8:00 PM ET, Monday, April 23, 2018
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota

The franchise's first home playoff game since 2004 gave the Minnesota Timberwolves all the juice they needed to steal Game 3 and get back into the first-round Western Conference series against the top-seeded Houston Rockets. The Timberwolves will try to ride that wave to an even best-of-seven series when they host the Rockets in Game 4 on Monday.

Minnesota shot 50 percent from the floor, 55.6 percent from 3-point range and handed out 29 assists against seven turnovers in Game 3 while rolling to a 121-105 win. "The fans were absolutely insane," Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, who enjoyed his best game of the series with 18 points and 16 rebounds, told reporters. "When you have fan support like that behind you, anything’s possible." The Rockets won an NBA-high 65 games during the regular season but could not match the intensity of Minnesota with the crowd behind it. "They played with a little bit more emotion than we had, a little harder," Houston coach Mike D'Antoni told reporters. "Especially in big moments, they came up with either a stop or a score or something. We didn't battle enough to overcome the crowd and emotion that they had. Give them their due, but we need to play a little bit better and harder."

TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT, AT&T SportsNet Southwest (Houston), FS North (Minnesota)

ABOUT THE ROCKETS: Houston star James Harden scored 29 points in Game 3 to bounce back from a 2-of-18 shooting effort in Game 2 but shooting guard Eric Gordon continues to struggle. Gordon, who averaged 18 points during the regular season, is putting up 10.3 points in the postseason on 28.2 percent shooting and is 6-of-26 from 3-point range. "Offensively, we weren't pushing it at our pace," Gordon told the Houston Chronicle after the Game 3 loss. "We stooped to their level, playing slow. Of course, everyone will say that we missed a lot of open shots. Both teams are going to do that. It's all about creating the pace."

ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES: Minnesota All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler averaged 12 points in the first two games of the series and attempted a total of 17 shots but was a different player in front of the home fans. Butler exploded for a team-high 28 points on 10-of-19 shooting, including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc, and added series highs of seven rebounds and five assists in the win. "I can tell you the last couple of days that I got tired of my teammates telling me to be more aggressive," Butler told reporters. "I took it upon myself to do just that. They are used to me being aggressive the past seven months, so don't switch it up now. I did that. I did my job."

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Timberwolves reserve PG Derrick Rose is averaging 14 points in the series after posting 8.4 during the regular season.

2. Rockets PF Ryan Anderson (ankle) missed the first two games of the series and went 4-of-6 from 3-point range in his Game 3 return.

3. Minnesota PG Jeff Teague scored a series-high 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting in Game 3.

PREDICTION: Timberwolves 113, Rockets 111
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div Conf
Houston 67-18 L1 36-7 31-11 1-1 66-17 12-4 43-12
Minnesota 48-37 W1 31-11 17-26 3-0 45-37 10-6 35-20
Last Meeting
Houston Minnesota
Date Away Home Pts Reb FG% Pts Reb FG%
4/21/18 HOU 105 MIN 121 105 39 45.7 121 41 50.0
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Points Player Total FG% FTM
Houston J. Harden 29 42.9 8
Minnesota J. Butler 28 52.6 4
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
Houston C. Capela 11 4 7
Minnesota K. Towns 16 3 13
Assists Player  
Houston J. Harden 7
Minnesota J. Teague 8
Season
Points Player Total FG% FTM
Houston J. Harden 2360 44.4 669
Minnesota K. Towns 1821 53.7 364
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
Houston C. Capela 876 263 613
Minnesota K. Towns 1067 250 817
Assists Player  
Houston J. Harden 683
Minnesota J. Teague 523
Quickchart Matchup
Houston Houston Off vs  Minnesota Minnesota Defense
Houston Off vs Minnesota - Points For 112.0 Points For
Houston Off vs Minnesota - Points Against 107.2 Points Against
Houston - FG% 45.8 FG%
Minnesota - FG% 47.3 FG%
Houston - Reb 43.5 Reb
Minnesota - Reb 41.9 Reb
Minnesota Minnesota Off vs  Houston Houston Defense
Minnesota Off vs Houston - Points For 109.2 Points For
Minnesota Off vs Houston - Points Against 103.8 Points Against
Minnesota - FG% 47.5 FG%
Houston - FG% 46.2 FG%
Minnesota - Reb 42.1 Reb
Houston - Reb 42.2 Reb