NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, January 23rd (All times eastern)
Houston Rockets (9-7) at Minnesota Timberwolves (7-9), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Kevin McHale returns to Minnesota Monday as his streaking Houston Rockets visit an improved Timberwolves team.
McHale, who twice left his front-office position with the Timberwolves as vice president of basketball operations to replace a struggling coach: Flip Saunders in 2005 and Randy Wittman in 2009, returns to the Twin Cities with a team on a six-game run.
Ironically, the mentor now on the Wolves' bench, Rick Adelman, is the coach McHale replaced in Houston.
The Rockets just finished up a perfect three-game homestand on Saturday when Kevin Martin scored a team-high 25 points as Houston held off a late surge by the San Antonio Spurs to take a 105-102 victory.
Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic netted 14 points apiece, while Luis Scola, Samuel Dalembert and Patrick Patterson each had 12 as Houston stretched its win streak to six games, the longest spurt for the Rockets since another six-gamer from Feb. 11-26, 2009.
"Houston is a good basketball team. They're talented, they're deep and they are physical," Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. "Their big guys are working hard and their roll players are doing a good job."
The Rockets haven't won seven in a row since a team-record 22-game winning streak from Jan. 29-March 16, 2008, the second-longest in NBA history
Houston has won 14 of its last 15 vs. Minnesota but this is a far different Wolves club.
Most recently, Minnesota lost for the first time in four games on Saturday, falling at Utah 108-98. Rookie star Ricky Rubio led seven Wolves players in double figures in that one with 17 points and 11 assists to go with four steals, but the Timberwolves couldn't build momentum from Friday night's 101-98 win against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Kevin Love, who hit the winning three-point shot at the buzzer at Staples Center on Friday, struggled by going 5-of-21 from the floor on Saturday. He had 15 points and eight rebounds, but the Timberwolves had their three-game winning streak broken.
"Playing last night and everything he's probably a little tired. Hopefully we'll have day off tomorrow and Monday we'll be a little bit refreshed," Adelman said.
McHale, a Hall of Fame player with an incredible drop-step move for the Boston Celtics, is, of course, a Minnesota legend. Born in Hibbing, he was Minnesota's Mr. Basketball during his senior season at Hibbing High School.
The 6-foot-10 power forward then moved on to the University of Minnesota where he was named All-Big Ten in 1979 and 1980. In 1992, he was elected to the Minnesota State High School League Hall of Fame and, in 1995, he was selected as top player in the history of University of Minnesota men's basketball.
As a coach with the Wolves McHale was 20-43 (.317) when he finished the 2008-09 season after Wittman was fired and 19-12 (.613) in 2004-05 after Saunders' exit.
01/23 10:47:57 ET