Preview: Rockets at Timberwolves
The Houston Rockets are back to streaking in the right direction and are coming off back-to-back dominating wins over the San Antonio Spurs and the Chicago Bulls. The Rockets will try to make it three in a row when they visit the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday.
Houston surrendered an average of 124 points during a four-game slide but was stronger on the defensive end Friday and Saturday while holding the Spurs and Bulls to 105 points apiece. The turnaround on defense coincides with the healthy return of point guard Chris Paul, who sat out three games with leg soreness before returning on Friday and notching a double-double in back-to-back games. The Timberwolves had a four-game winning streak come to an end in a 118-109 setback at home to the Boston Celtics on Saturday. “We had some miscues and made some mistakes. It was our fault,” Minnesota center Karl-Anthony Towns told reporters. “They’re a great team and made us pay for those mistakes.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, AT&T SportsNet Southwest (Houston), FS North (Minnesota)
ABOUT THE ROCKETS (11-11): Houston star James Harden scored 30 points on 9-of-16 shooting in 30 minutes on Saturday and is averaging 35.4 points over the last seven games. Harden needed to play an average of 29 minutes in the last two games with the Rockets rounding into form from a health perspective and took some time after Saturday’s win to extol the virtues of a short injury list. “Everyone is much more efficient when we’re together and we have a full roster, as you can see these last few games,” Harden told reporters.
ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (11-12): Minnesota is leaning on former MVP and current sixth man Derrick Rose for leadership, and the veteran is not afraid to get on his younger teammates. “At this stage in my life and my career, that’s what I’m here for, to be able to express how I feel, express what guys want to say but don’t say it,” Rose told reporters. “It’s easy for me to communicate with people. They listen to me. I guess they trust me and believe in me.” Rose is leading the team on the court as well and scored 26 points on 11-of-18 shooting in Saturday’s loss – the fourth time in the last six games that he scored at least 20 points.
1. Timberwolves SF Andrew Wiggins scored 17 points on 5-of-12 shooting Saturday, snapping a string of five straight games in which he finished with fewer points than attempted field goals.
2. Rockets C Clint Capela recorded a double-double in eight of the last nine games.
3. The teams are meeting for the first time since Houston knocked off Minnesota in five games in the first round of the playoffs last spring.