HOUSTON (AP) — This time, there was no second half disappearing act by the Houston Rockets.
Luis Scola scored 24 points and Kevin Martin added 21 to help the Houston Rockets win their first game of the season with a 120-94 rout of the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night.
The Rockets led at the half in four of their first five losses and then faded in the second half. They had no such letdown against the Timberwolves. They had lost the first five games by an average of six points.
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“It was just good to get a win after all this time and we’ve been so close,” Rockets coach Rick Adelman said. “To come out and get one now we can start moving in the other direction.”
Yao Ming, playing under a strict time limit while recovering from foot surgery, had 13 points and four rebounds in 16 minutes. Shane Battier added 17 points for Houston, which lost its first five games. The Rockets lost their first 10 games in 1982-83.
“We did a much better job of finding Yao,” Adelman said. “Taking it away and then coming to him and reposting him, they had trouble guarding him so we wanted to be sure we went to him.”
Minnesota lost for the sixth time in seven games. Kevin Love led the Timberwolves with 16 points and 16 rebounds. Michael Beasley added 15 points.
“We were mentally prepared for the game but we couldn’t throw a pea into the ocean,” Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis said. “Our confidence got sucked out of us and we just couldn’t make a shot. Our defense was compromised and it was a tough loss.”
The Rockets made 39 of 47 free throws and committed just seven turnovers.
Yao and Martin combined to give the Rockets a 60-37 halftime lead and Scola kept the pressure up with 13 points in the third quarter to help Houston extend its advantage to 97-67 heading to the fourth.
Yao came in with 9:17 to go in the second period and scored 11 points over seven minutes. Martin had 12 points in the quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Love acknowledged the Timberwolves had a rough time defending Yao.
“This was a team we probably could have beaten,” Love said. “Houston was ready and set the tone early with Yao inside. Scola and the rest of their team got to the free throw line a lot. When they shoot the ball so well, it makes it tough for us.”
Yao sat out Saturday night’s 124-121 overtime loss to the Spurs.
“I’m obviously just very pleased about the way we came out and played after last night,” Adelman said. “We responded and from the very start of the game we were aggressive and active and we played a pretty solid game the whole way through.”
The Rockets made only seven shots in the first quarter, but they still took a 26-14 lead because the Timberwolves had only one field goal over the final 7:35 of the opening period.
Notes: Aaron Brooks (sprained left ankle), Kyle Lowry (back spasms) sat out the game for the Rockets. … Luke Ridnour injured his hamstring and didn’t play in the second half. … Minnesota’s biggest loss this season was 42 points to Orlando, 128-86.