Publish date:

Harden, Rockets admit they're not playing well against the Wolves

James Harden has made just 11 of his last 38 shots.
Author:

Panic isn't setting in, but the Houston Rockets sound like a team that's having a tough time figuring it out against the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

The Rockets won a tight Game 1 and then blew the doors off the Wolves in Game 2, only to get punched in the mouth in a blowout loss at Target Center in Game 3. 

On Sunday, Rockets MVP candidate James Harden said "it's a been a long time" since they've played with rhythm, and head coach Mike D'Antoni believes it's been a couple of months. 

"That's why I was worried the whole time about resting guys, doing this, getting out of rhythm," he said, via ESPN. "[People say], 'It doesn't really mean a whole lot.' Eh, it does."

Related: 

Wolves owner questions some of Thibodeau's coaching

Sign up for our daily newsletters

Houston averaged 122.8 points against the Wolves during the regular season, but has been held to 104, 102, and 105 points in three games this series, respectively. 

It's a style of play that Rockets blog The Dream Shake refers to as the "Grinding Wheel."

"The ISO-heavy Rockets are the prime manifestation of the Grinding Wheel. It is brutal arithmetic at work. If an opponent is held in contact with a mix of Harden and Paul ISOs and open threes, faces the Rockets defense for long enough, they’ll be abraded into nothingness. The Rockets aren’t moving fast, they aren’t flying around. They’re just grinding, and their talent and commitment wins out, and wins ugly."

Thing is, the Grinding Wheel "should be a regular season device, only," the blog says, noting that it's too hard to win in the playoffs  with isolation basketball, even with Harden, who's arguably the best isolation player in the game today. 

But as great as he is, Harden has a reputation for imploding during the playoffs. And since his dominating 44-point performance in Game 1 he's been relatively quiet, hitting a combined 11-of-38 shots and just 4-of-18 on 3-pointers. 

Minnesota deserves credit for playing with more energy on defense, too. They've held the Rockets 9.7 points below their season average and held their deadly 3-point shooting to just 31.5 percent. 

The Rockets can cool everyone's jets with a win in Game 4 Monday night (7 p.m. on FSN and TNT), but if they lose you can bet everything you've got that the Harden and D'Antoni doubters will come charging full speed ahead. 

Next Up

Gopher Hockey

Watch: No-call lifts Gophers to OT victory over St. Cloud State

A blatant hook marred a top-four battle in St. Cloud.

Ambulance hospital emergency

Driver killed after crashing into parked semi-trailer

The crash occurred on the 5800 block of University Avenue Northeast.

Mike Zimmer

Vikings-Panthers: 5 things you can count on happening

The Vikings will look to open things up in Carolina.

Tanner Morgan/Gopher Football

Morgan's resurgence, Nebraska's miscues help Gophers hold on

The Gophers quarterback threw a pair of touchdowns in a 30-23 victory.

Tina Smith

Sen. Tina Smith warns Dems she may not vote for budget bill if climate plan dropped

This comes amid a White House effort to get its "Build Back Better" plan passed.

Pixabay - emergency room ambulance hospital

St. Paul man dies six days after crash on I-94

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner has identified the man as David Rodney Hardaway.

police lights squad car dark - Unsplash

Double murder in northeastern Minnesota, suspect kills himself after chase

The suspect died at the scene from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

chaska school fight

Anti-masker involved in school board meeting fight charged with assault

It happened last month at an Eastern Carver County Schools hearing.

Marcus Foligno

Marcus Foligno throws hands, scores game-winning goal in Wild's opener

The Wild forward scored with 7.2 seconds left to beat Anaheim.

Related

Wolves-Rockets: Can Harden shake the stink from 2017 playoffs?

Harden laid an all-time egg in an elimination game last season.

Airball by Jimmy Butler ends Wolves' bid to win Game 1

Jimmy Butler's last shot wouldn't have tied the game.

Gersson Rosas

Report: Wolves to make Gersson Rosas team president

He played a role in bringing James Harden to the Rockets.

Rockets 'flipped the switch,' Wolves admit they lack energy and don't know why

Four of Minnesota's starters admitted that they didn't play with energy.

Wolves-Rockets to play Game 1 on Sunday

Houston averaged 122.8 points against the Wolves in the regular season.

Rockets expect MN to be 'crazy,' warn their best is yet to come

Houston had destroyed Minnesota in four of six games this season.

Wolves will 'fight fire with fire' in Game 3 against Rockets

Jeff Teague says they've spent too much time focusing on defense.

49101088526_c080f9dacf_o

Wolves playing like the worst teams in franchise history

It looks like the Wolves will have a decent shot at getting the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.