Timberwolves-Rockets Preview

The Houston Rockets didn’t have too many problems in the opener

to their longest homestand of the season. The injury-plagued and

last-place Minnesota Timberwolves are set to visit next, though

they’ve dominated the recent series between the clubs.

The Rockets try to avoid a fifth loss in six matchups and fourth

in a row at home to the Timberwolves on Friday night.

Houston (35-30) followed up a 1-2 road trip with a 111-81 rout

of Phoenix on Wednesday. Rookie forward Donatas Motiejunas scored a

career-high 19 points to lead six Rockets in double figures and the

team’s 10 3-pointers gave them double digits in all six games this


“We were moving the ball, sharing the ball,” point guard Jeremy

Lin said. “You could look across (the statistics) and see we had

great distribution among the scoring. That’s usually a great sign

of transition buckets, as well as sharing the ball


The win helped the Rockets, seventh in the Western Conference,

move two games ahead of ninth-place Utah. Houston will try to pad

that advantage during a seven-game stretch at home, where it’s won

seven of eight.

The Rockets’ next opponent has dropped 14 of 15 on the road and

is 6-25 there overall. Minnesota, however, has looked anything like

a bad team in its recent matchups with Houston.

The Timberwolves recorded a 92-79 home victory over the Rockets

on Jan. 19 despite the absence of seven players due to injury and

illness. Minnesota’s leader with 21 points in that game, Andrei

Kirilenko, is dealing with a strained calf it’s uncertain whether

he’ll play Friday.

The status of center Nikola Pekovic is also unclear while star

forward Kevin Love and former Rockets swingman Chase Budinger are

also expected to continue lengthy absences.

Pekovic had 30 points and 12 rebounds in the teams’ last meeting

in Houston, a 111-98 Wolves victory Feb. 17, 2012. Minnesota has

averaged 114.3 points in its three consecutive victories at


After a stunning 107-83 blowout of Western Conference-leading

San Antonio on Tuesday, Minnesota couldn’t follow with another

victory the next day, falling 107-91 at Indiana. Ricky Rubio scored

21 points for the second straight game, matching a season high, and

had 10 assists.

“We played hard. We just didn’t have enough. We ran out of gas

in the second half, but they competed,” coach Rick Adelman


Houston’s James Harden made two baskets in the final 40 seconds

and had 17 of his team-best 30 points in the fourth quarter of an

87-84 road victory over Minnesota on Dec. 26.

Harden made 11 of 22 shots in that game, but missed 13 of 18 and

scored 18 points in the January matchup.