KG is Double Trouble vs. Rockets
MINNEAPOLIS, Dec. 21 (Ticker) -- Kevin Garnett
would not allow the Houston Rockets to record a season-high fourth straight victory on his turf.
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Garnett scored 21 of 27 points in the second half and grabbed 10 rebounds for his league-leading 23rd double-double as the
Minnesota Timberwolves snapped a two-game losing streak with a 98-86 triumph over the Rockets.
"I thought we played well," Garnett said. "We came out with the energy we needed. I felt like our energy coming out early was very solid."
"Kevin Garnett seems like a spider," 7-5 Rockets rookie Yao Ming said of the 7-foot Garnett. "He has strong arms and strong legs."
Troy Hudson had 12 of his 15 points in the first quarter as Minnesota opened a 30-20 lead. The Timberwolves built their biggest edge, 42-24, on a dunk by Marc Jackson with 8½ minutes to play in the half before the Rockets closed within 53-45 at halftime.
"We like to get out and attack early and attack first," Hudson said. "We did that tonight. I was able to get out and get some good looks. My teammates were finding me and setting good picks, and I was able to knock them down."
Houston took a 67-66 lead on the second of two free throws by Yao with 3:13 to play in the third quarter, but Rod Strickland countered with a jumper with 2:39 left to give Minnesota the lead for good.
Strickland added 14 points and Gary Trent had 12 and 13 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who were outrebounded 45-39.
"Anytime I'm rebounding aggressively and defending aggressively, it just gets me into the game," Trent said. "It gets me
rolling. I'm not going to get the ball offensively in my hands to get going, so if I go and get some steals, get it off the
glass, that's how I'm going to get my hands on the ball and get that feel. And that gets me in an aggressive mode."
"Gary's effort, like always, was helpful," Garnett added. "He and (Rasho Nesterovic), I felt like, were big components of the game, which allowed us to win. ... The reason I'm able to come down with 10 to 15 boards a night is because they are in there
fighting with me."
The Timberwolves took a 74-69 advantage into the final period after Glen Rice's 31-foot three-pointer at the buzzer was overturned by a video replay, and the Rockets got no closer than 82-79 on Moochie Norris' jumper with 8:48 remaining.
Minnesota shot 48 percent (40-of-84) and limited Houston to 42 percent (34-of-82), including 2-of-19 from the arc.
"We tried some zone," Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "They just did a great job against it. Guys you don't expect to
make shots did. (And) defensively, they are so long."
Steve Francis contributed 24 points and 10 rebounds and Yao had 12 and 12 but committed six turnovers for Houston, which fell to 5-9 on the road.
"I think (Yao) is a little tired," Tomjanovich said. "He's not a mistake player. He made mistakes. That's not typical of
"This has been a tough week," Yao said through an interpreter. "Back-to-back games are very hard. I have to deal with more
media than other rookies, and I'm tired right now."
Although Yao, like his teammates, appeared somewhat fatigued after beating Atlanta on Friday, he impressed the Timberwolves
in his first game against them.
"There is no question that he changes the complexity of the game," Saunders said. "He's going to be a great player in this
league. He's big. He knows how to play. He has a calmness and doesn't seem to get rumbled. We came at him a lot and got him to put it on the floor six times, but he still kept his composure."
"Yao Ming is going to be all right," Trent added. "He's big as hell. Once he gets some repetitions under his belt and gets a feel for the game and the referees, Yao Ming is going to make people work."