HOUSTON – The Timberwolves completed another winless road trip on Sunday, falling 117-102 to the Rockets.
Not much has happened to get the fanbase excited over the last week.
But perhaps Sunday’s game marks the rejuvenation of Josh Okogie. Okogie has still been starting but recently went through one of his roughest patches of the season. He was just 3 of his last 17 entering Sunday, and he admitted that has was struggling to deal with the fatigue that a long season can have on a rookie.
“I always tell people I’ve played more games in the NBA now that I’ve played my whole college tenure,” Okogie said. “It’s definitely hard but it’s what I signed up for and I’m grateful.”
Perhaps squaring off against James Harden helped him overcome that fatigue.
Again, Okogie had a solid night defending Harden, who scored 20 points but on an inefficient 8 of 24 shooting. It wasn't the first time this season he helped limit Harden. Okogie and his Wolves teammates also did something to Harden that hadn’t happened since 2015 – kept the league’s most frequent free-throw shooter off the foul line. Okogie said Saturday the key to that would be his ability to show his hands to the officials so as not to give them a reason to call a foul.
“I think we did a good job communicating when he was in pick and rolls and when he was going to the basket,” Okogie said. “Whoever was guarding him at the time whether it was me or [Andrew Wiggins] or Tyus [Jones], whoever it may have been, did a good job of playing without putting our hands in there because he loves to draw that foul.”
Okogie has typically brought energy to the defensive end of the floor, but perhaps most encouraging for him was his offensive game. He scored 21 points (tying a career high) on 8 of 14 shooting, which included 3 of 7 three-pointers. Perhaps Okogie has come through the other side of the rookie wall.
‘He had a great game,” Jones said. “Great bounce back game. Just got to stick with it. It’s all a process and a grind of a season and that’s the good thing about having so many games is you get a chance to bounce back and turn things around quickly.”