Notebook: Rockets 108, Timberwolves 100



Posted Mar 16, 2013 12:26 AM

By Matt Miller, For NBA.com

THE FACTS: The Houston Rockets' largest comeback in Toyota Center history came at the expense of the injury-plagued Minnesota Timberwolves in a 108-100 win Friday night.

James Harden scored 37 points to go with eight assists and seven rebounds, while Jeremy Lin added 24 points, eight assists and four steals as the Rockets overcame a 20-point, third-quarter deficit. Reserve center Greg Smith added 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter for Houston (36-30), which won its eighth home game in its last nine tries while snapping a three-game home losing streak against Minnesota.

Derrick Williams led the Wolves (22-41), losers of seven consecutive road games and 26 of 32 contests overall, with 19 points and four rebounds. J.J. Barea scored 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting, and Greg Stiemsma chipped in with 12 points and four blocks.

QUOTABLE: "They normally just frustrate me. Tonight, they made me mad. They responded, and that's credit to them. ... They do stuff that makes me just shake my head a lot, then they do stuff like that second half, and all is right in Rockets land."

-- Rockets coach Kevin McHale on the inconsistent nature of his young team

THE STAT: After Omer Asik, Harden and Lin combined for 10 of Houston's 15 turnovers in the first half, the trio committed only two after halftime. Their improved focus on the offensive end of the court also prevented the Wolves from generating the easy transition buckets that built their 59-39 advantage. The Rockets did not give up a point off only three turnovers after Minnesota built its largest lead of the evening.

TURNING POINT: Harden got off to a miserable start, shooting 3-for-10 and committing three turnovers before halftime. As soon as his fortunes changed, so did the Rockets'. The 6-foot-5 guard poured in 25 points on 5-for-6 shooting and buried 12 of his 13 free-throw attempts in the second half to guide Houston to its ninth comeback victory from a 20-plus-point deficit in franchise history. Lin's penetration, lack of turnovers and stout defense against Wolves guard Ricky Rubio also played a pivotal role in the Rockets' turnaround.

QUOTABLE II: "He got to the basket on us and took control of the game. ... Obviously, it's very hard stopping him."

-- Wolves coach Rick Adelman on Harden's second-half outburst

HOT: Minnesota's Mickael Gelabale stuffed the stat sheet, posting a line of 10 points, seven boards and five assists in 30-plus minutes on the court. This was not the first time this season that Gelabale gave the Rockets fits. In his Wolves debut, Jan. 19 at Target Center, Gelabale provided clutch plays during a strong fourth-quarter stint to help Minnesota hold off Houston for a 92-79 win.

NOT: Rubio did a decent job of facilitating Minnesota's offense, but the second-year point guard failed to recapture the shooting rhythm he found when he netted 21 points in his previous two outings. In addition to his dismal 4-for-13 shooting effort, Rubio was torched on the other end of the court by the brawnier Lin and Harden throughout Houston's second-half surge.

QUOTABLE III: "He's a great passer, and he likes to distribute, so we were trying to make him shoot and score as much as we could."

-- Jeremy Lin on his defensive game plan against Rubio

GOOD MOVE: With Houston desperately aiming to avoid a disappointing result that would have damaged its playoff aspirations, Harden and McHale threw caution to the wind. Harden, who was labeled as a game-time decision hours before the game with a sore left foot, did not spend a second of the third and fourth periods on the bench.

BAD MOVE: The Rockets seemed to overlook injury-riddled Minnesota and approached the first half in a complacent manner, allowing the Wolves to live off their careless turnovers. After Houston allowed 20 points off 15 turnovers over the first two quarters, a chorus of boos greeted the Rockets as they walked toward the locker room facing an 18-point halftime deficit.

NOTABLE: Before the game, McHale said Rockets trainer Keith Jones told him that Harden's lingering sore foot cannot get any worse. ... Houston, which has buried 715 3-point attempts this season, surpassed its previous franchise record of 705 made treys in a season. With 16 games remaining in the regular season, the Rockets are on course to set the NBA record for most 3-point baskets in a regular season. ... Houston has drained at least 10 3-point attempts in seven consecutive contests. ... Rockets reserve wing Carlos Delfino grabbed a season-high 10 rebounds. ... Houston improved to 11-3 this season when Harden scores at least 20 points and dishes out at least eight assists. ... The Wolves fell to 7-25 on the road this season.

UP NEXT: For the Wolves, Sunday vs. New Orleans, Monday @ Memphis, Thursday @ Sacramento. For the Rockets, Sunday vs. Golden State, Wednesday vs. Utah, Friday vs. Cleveland.