Monday, January 24, 2011

Neither the Houston Rockets nor Minnesota Timberwolves are among the NBA's elite teams, to say the least. However, their game tonight in Minneapolis featured a number of streak-relevant developments.

Normally, if a team has a 17-point lead with just 4:15 remaining in the game, a nail-biter finish is unlikely. Tonight, however, Houston saw its 119-102 lead with that much time left shrink to just a three-point advantage (125-122) with 0:09 remaining (play-by-play sheet). The Rockets then made all four of their free-throw attempts as the Wolves fouled down the stretch, to hold on for a 129-125 victory.

How did Minnesota score 20 points in just a little over four minutes (from 4:15 to 0:09 left on the clock)? Field-goal shooting was a mixed bag, as the Wolves went 2-for-2 on three-pointers, but only 2-of-7 on attempts from inside the arc. Minnesota's shooting was a lot sharper at the free-throw line, where it hit 10-of-11 during the stretch.

As noted in this AP/ article, the Rockets had a hot spurt of their own, outscoring the Wolves 17-2 in the third quarter to take a 93-74 lead. The same article noted an oddity, namely that the Rockets' Kevin Martin, "an 89 percent free throw shooter, missed five free throws." Specifically, Martin was 13-of-18 from the stripe. According to an online calculator, the probability that a .89 shooter would hit 13 or fewer free throws in 18 attempts was .04 (i.e., 4-in-100).

Former UCLA big man Kevin Love continues to be a force for the Timberwolves, although it hasn't translated into many wins; the team now languishes at 10-34. Against Houston, Love recorded his 30th straight double-double with 24 points and 17 rebounds.

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