MINNEAPOLIS, Dec. 8 (Ticker) -- Kevin Garnett
helped the Minnesota Timberwolves hand the Houston Rockets their ninth straight loss,
Garnett led five Timberwolves in double figures with 21 points
on 8-of-14 shooting and collected nine rebounds and eight
Wally Szczerbiak and Joe Smith each added 18 points as the
Wolves extended the Rockets' longest losing streak since the
1982-83 season, when they dropped 10 straight.
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Terrell Brandon had a team-high 11 assists in a win over the Rockets.
"We don't want to play against the other team, but play against
ourselves," Szczerbiak said. "We want to execute what we want to
execute and play well as a team.
"The other team is not trying to go out there and lose. They're
playing just as hard as we are. We feel that if we do things we
are supposed to, we will come out on top at the end."
Minnesota (13-5) scored the game's first basket and led
throughout. Garnett had 11 points and four rebounds in the
first quarter as the Wolves built a 28-16 lead. Houston got no
closer than 10 points thereafter.
"We got a bunch of fast-break points when we went into our ‘50'
(defense)," Wolves coach Flip Saunders said. "We got three or
four stops in a row with some easy baskets and built up a
cushion. We got to our spots. We were the most aggressive we
have been in a couple of weeks at going to the basket."
Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich was ejected with 5:21 remaining
in the third period after picking up two technical fouls.
Minnesota's Terrell Brandon converted both free throws to give
his team its biggest lead of the game, 50-31.
"It's inexcusable to get kicked out. Right or wrong, I need to
do a better job of coaching the team, instead of the officials,"
Tomjanovich said. "I'm trying to point out something to the
referees, and it doesn't matter if I'm right or wrong -- it
doesn't help us."
Houston (7-14) played without swingman Glen Rice, who is out a
week to 10 days after injuring his left patellar tendon in
Thursday's 85-82 loss to Washington.
Walt Williams scored 23 points and Cuttino Mobley added 21 for
the Rockets, who shot just 43 percent (35-of-81). Houston
continues to play without star guard Steve Francis.
"If we come out and play like we did the second half, we'll be a
lot better," Mobley said. "We have to go all out and try to
steal games now. In the situation we're in -- banged-up guys --
we have to go out and steal games."
Minnesota connected at 55 percent (41-of-74) and has won eight
of the last 10 meetings with Houston, which scored more than 86
points for the first time during its skid.
"The only encouraging thing for us is to win games right now,"
Williams said. "You don't go out and say, ‘This man played well,
or that man played well.' We've got to get a win -- bottom line.
If all of us play terrible and we get a win, that's good. Our
expectations are to get to the playoffs, not to have moral
"We're frustrated," Mobley added. "When things are bad in life
you focus on every little thing instead of going back to what
made you the player you are or the team you are. Just getting
back to the gym, being more unselfish, making the extra pass,
being more aggressive at the beginning, or being a student of
the game -- that's what we have to do, because we don't have a
lot of our players."