Here are some facts about tonight’s game:
Dante Cunningham pulled down 13 rebounds and scored 20 points, and that wasn’t the best line of the night.
Gorgui Dieng hauled in 20 rebounds, 10 of which came on the offensive glass and scored the game-winning shot with less than four seconds left, and it wasn’t the most incredible thing to happen in the game.
That’s because Corey Brewer threw in 51 points, fifth most in the NBA this season.
Brewer was the metaphorical human flamethrower, hitting on 19 of his 30 field goal attempts and converted 11 of his 15 trips to the free-throw line.
James Harden scored 33 points, which on a normal night in a normal game would normally be the top score. This was not a normal night and far from a normal game.
Brewer has always been the classic slasher, able to score with or without the ball cutting in from outside while being able to spot up and shoot from around the perimeter. Tonight showcased those abilities in full.
Brewer was also a menace on defense, finishing with six steals. His tendency to jump the passing lanes to go for those steals, however, certainly contributed to Houston time and again finding open players or wide-open paths to the basket.
The game ultimately boiled down to the final few possessions as, despite holding a multiple-possession lead, the Timberwolves poor free-throw shooting combined with the Rockets making a couple of big shots allowed the game to remain close.
After Gorgui Dieng scored on a jumper to put Minnesota up 107-103 with 37.9 seconds left, James Harden let just nine seconds burn off the clock as he converted on the other end.
The Rockets were then able to foul Ricky Rubio, who split a pair of foul shots to put the Wolves up 108-105. Chandler Parsons exploited more poor Corey Brewer defense to dunk the ball unopposed with just three seconds coming off the clock.
Rubio then made two more free-throws, extending the lead to 110-107. James Harden made a tough contested three pointer to tie the scores and give Minnesota 17.3 seconds to find a game-winner or play overtime.
Rubio set the play up, a pick-and-roll with Dieng before Rubio hit the rookie big man on the roll and he converted an awkward fall-away jumper. Dieng would then play a huge part on smothering Harden’s last-second burst up the court, preventing him from even sniffing a shot attempt.
So, to recap:
Gorgui Dieng: 12 points (including the game-winner) and 20 rebounds.
Corey Brewer: 51 points on 19-30 shooting, a career high.
Ricky Rubio: 16 points and 10 assists, including the assist for the game-winner.
And all of this without Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic or Kevin Martin.
Just another standard early-April NBA game.