Even Derrick Rose was able to laugh at the joke, even though he made it at his own expense.

Rose had just played a huge role in the Timberwolves’ 121-105 victory over Houston on Saturday night at Target Center, a game that left the Wolves down 2-1 in the playoff series.

Rose came off the bench to score 17 points. He made eight of 16 shots and added two assists and two steals in 21 minutes.

He was aggressive on the perimeter on defense. With the ball in his hands, he attacked the rim, drove and scored a few times and hit his share of midrange shots. He scored 10 points and was a team-best plus-nine in the first half.

In the fourth quarter, playing all 12 minutes, he scored seven points, making a corner three with 2 minutes, 10 seconds left that put the Wolves up 16.

“That’s why I’m here,” said Rose, who has dealt with injuries for years. He was signed as a free agent relatively late in the season, reuniting with coach Tom Thibodeau.

But then, that joke. Rose doesn’t make a lot of three-pointers. He will attack the rim or pull up and hit a midrange in the lane. He is kind of a throwback.

“That’s my game anyway,” he said. “Attack. Get them to close in. Kick the ball out or score. But with today’s league, my game is almost kind of gone.”

He laughed. Rose is also a former MVP who has played in big games before. Maybe that’s why he didn’t flinch Saturday.

“Derrick is capable,” said Taj Gibson, who played with Rose in Chicago. “He’s been in a lot of big games. He’s no stranger to taking a big shot. ... We knew what we were getting when we got him. It’s already paying off.”

Towns more active

Limited in the first two games to a combined 13 points on 5-for-18 shooting, Karl-Anthony Towns was urged by Thibodeau to be more active.

The Wolves All-Star center was much more aggressive Saturday, scoring 18 points on 5-for-13 shooting. He was also 7-for-7 from the free throw line after getting to the line just six times in the first two games. Towns also grabbed 16 rebounds with three assists and two blocks.

Towns also had a little fun at the expense of James Harden. Twice — once in the third quarter, once in the fourth — the Rockets superstar launched airballs on contested three-point attempts. Both times, Towns bent over, put his right hand above his eyes, and looked into the stands in an attempt to see where the ball landed off in the distance.

One more weapon

Houston forward Ryan Anderson made his series debut Saturday, scoring 12 points in 18 minutes on 4-for-6 shooting — all three-pointers — after he missed the first two games because of a sprained ankle.

“He’s just another big weapon that we have,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said before the game. “He fits what we do, and he gives you one more chance to have a big game out of somebody. He can put 30 up in a heartbeat.”

With Anderson’s Game 3 performance, the 6-10 reserve is 16-for-27 from three-point range in his past four games against the Wolves this season. In that span, he is only 1-for-5 from inside the arc.

Get used to it

The Wolves’ Andrew Wiggins thinks he has gotten fouled repeatedly so far in this series but isn’t getting the calls.

Welcome to the playoffs, Thibodeau said.

“It’s normal, the physicality of the playoffs,” Thibodeau said. “I think he has played really well. He’s playing with a lot of toughness.”

Wiggins continued to be aggressive Saturday, scoring 20 points on 7-for-11 shooting, including 4-for-6 from three-point range. He once again wasn’t rewarded by the referees, however, shooting just four free throws and making two.

He had five rebounds and five assists in a strong all-around game.

Patton’s second surgery

Wolves rookie center Justin Patton will miss summer-league play for the second consecutive year after he underwent surgery on his foot Wednesday for the second time since July, Thibodeau said.

He said doctors decided from one of Patton’s checkups to perform another surgery intended to help his foot heal faster. He played four minutes in one NBA game this season and 38 games in the G League.