Minnesota had done enough in the first half of Game 4 Monday against Houston to create genuine optimism throughout Target Center. Karl-Anthony Towns missed most of the first quarter with two quick fouls. Jeff Teague was banged up and ineffective. And yet at the half it was Rockets 50, Wolves 49.
And then … the Wolves came out flat to start the second half, with Towns later decrying their lack of energy and grit.
But with every tossup call that didn't go their way, frustration mounted. Wolves Tom Thibodeau, who works officials with vigor, grew even more agitated during that stretch and his team followed suit. Fans picked up on the energy, and it took all of six minutes of game action to completely change the mood and outcome of the series.
If a lack of energy was to blame for a slow start to the third quarter, a lack of poise played perhaps the biggest role in turning a Rockets run into a Rockets runaway.
Read Michael Rand's blog at startribune.com/randball. firstname.lastname@example.org.