NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, March 15th (All times Eastern)
Minnesota Timberwolves (22-40) at Houston Rockets (35-30), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Houston Rockets are the highest-scoring team in the NBA, but are one of the worst on defense.
Luckily for the Rockets, they're one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the league and look to remain hot beyond the arc Friday versus the Minnesota Timberwolves in the continuation of a seven-game homestand.
Averaging an NBA-best 106.9 ppg, the Rockets exacted revenge on the Phoenix Suns with Wednesday's 111-81 pounding of the Suns in the opener of the residency. Houston rebounded from a 107-105 road loss to Phoenix last Saturday by using six players in double figures to settle the score. Donatas Motiejunas scored a career-high 19 points and All-Star James Harden added 18. Harden is fifth in the league with 26.2 ppg.
"D-Mo (Motiejunas) played well tonight," said Rockets coach Kevin McHale. "I was happy for him. After a couple of stints where he got in foul trouble a little early in a couple of games, it was nice to see him get a little rhythm. Overall, that was a good game for us. We defended well and did some good stuff."
Motiejunas credited his hustle and defense for building confidence on the offensive end following the Rockets' recent practice.
The Suns lost every quarter to the Rockets, whose 32-17 difference in points in the third quarter put the game out of reach and lifted the team to its fourth win in six tries.
Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin scored 14 and 13 points, respectively, for the Rockets, who have buried 10-plus 3-pointers in six straight games (85-of-195) and lead the NBA in 3-pointers made (704-1881). Orlando set the record with 841 shots made from downtown in 2009-10. Houston is also sixth with a 3- point percentage of .374.
The Rockets are seventh in the West -- 1 1/2 games behind Golden State -- and 21-9 at home. They are allowing 103.3 ppg, which is just 29th in the league.
Minnesota came back to earth after their improbable triumph versus San Antonio with Wednesday's 107-91 setback at Indiana. Ricky Rubio came in fresh off a triple-double versus the Spurs on Tuesday, then scored 21 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out 10 assists against the Pacers.
"We fight all the way through," said Rubio. "We are not going to give up even if we're down seven, eight or nine points. I think their play inside hurt us a lot, especially Hibbert."
Luke Ridnour had 17 points for the Timberwolves, losers in nine of the past 11 games. Wolves center Nikola Pekovic has missed the past seven contests due to an abdominal strain and is doubtful for Friday. Forward Andrei Kirilenko (left calf strain) is still out indefinitely, as is former All-Star forward Kevin Love (broken hand), who will be re-evaluated in about three weeks.
Minnesota has struggled in the second throughout the season and is 2-30 when trailing after 36 minutes of play. It will try to stop a six-game road losing streak against the Rockets and is 7-24 away from the Target Center.
The T'Wolves and Rockets have split a pair of meetings this season as both games were played in the Twin Cities. Houston is 16-5 in the previous 21 encounters with Minnesota, which has won three straight in Space City.
03/15 10:30:29 ET