April 19, 2018 / 4:27 AM / in 9 months

Paul, Rockets cruise past Wolves

Chris Paul rebounded from a ragged Game 1 while Gerald Green provided a boost of energy off the bench as the Houston Rockets rolled to a 102-82 win over the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday in Game 2 of a Western Conference first-round playoff series.

Paul finished with a game-high 27 points and eight assists to push Houston to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Green added 21 points and 12 rebounds in 26 high-impact minutes, including nine on three 3-pointers during a 16-0 second-quarter run that shifted momentum to the Rockets for good.

Aside from Paul and Green, the Rockets scuffled offensively, with their defense carrying them to victory. The Timberwolves shot 38.8 percent from the floor and missed 13 of 18 3-point attempts.

With the game deadlocked at 30-30, the Rockets held Minnesota scoreless over a four-plus minute span to take control. The Timberwolves finished 0-for-7 with two turnovers during that stretch while Green caught fire, igniting the partisan crowd that watched Houston struggle and miss 20 of 25 shots in the opening period.

Paul ignited the run with a floater before Green buried consecutive treys to extend the lead to 38-30. When Green nailed a corner 3-pointer with 4:37 remaining in the first half, the Rockets led 46-30. Minnesota failed to fashion a sincere threat after that point.

The Timberwolves weren’t exactly a house aflame in the opening period, but their ball movement popped and they led 16-8 when Karl-Anthony Towns followed his 3-pointer with a post basket from the baseline. The Rockets shot 2 of 10 from 3-point range in the first, but the Timberwolves failed to take full advantage, leading 23-18 entering the second after shooting 39.1 percent.

When Green started hitting in the second, Minnesota lacked the firepower to fashion a reply. That Houston rolled to victory without significant contributions from James Harden and Eric Gordon, their leading and third-leading scorers during the season, should trouble the Timberwolves.

Harden, who scored a game-high 44 points in the opener, shot 2 of 18 and finished with 12 points and seven assists. Gordon went 3 of 13 and scored nine points. They combined to make 3 of 20 3-point attempts.

Nemanja Bjelica led Minnesota with 16 points and added eight rebounds. Andrew Wiggins had 13 points while Towns, fresh off a nine-point effort in Game 1, scored just five points and took only nine shots for a second consecutive contest. Towns pulled down a team-high 10 boards.

Houston’s Clint Capela contributed eight points and 16 rebounds.

Game 3 is Saturday at the Target Center in Minneapolis.

—Field Level Media

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