HOUSTON, Jan. 7 (Ticker) --
Until Wally Szczerbiak
suits up for the
Minnesota Timberwolves again, NBA mascots better look out for
NBA TV highlights from|
Frustrated after his team gave up 19 unanswered points in the
second quarter, Garnett pushed the Houston Rockets' mascot out
of his way in a lighthearted moment of the Timberwolves' 94-86
setback, their third in four games.
The mascot exaggerated a flop onto its back, drawing laughter
from the Compaq Center crowd.
"I was totally playing," Garnett said. "The only mascot I don't
like is that coyote in San Antonio. I was just playing with
the mascot here."
Szczerbiak, an All-Star last season, has played just four games
due to a sprained little toe on his left foot. He was activated
from the injured list Monday but did not dress for this
"When we do get him back, he will help us stretch out the
defense, and that will help out KG," Minnesota coach Flip
"I hope we can get him back on the court," Garnett added. "He
can help us, but he's not on the court just yet."
Minnesota led, 23-15, after Marc Jackson
hit a jumper 68 seconds
into the second quarter. But the Rockets responded with big
contributions from reserves Maurice Taylor
and Kelvin Cato
scored six and five points, respectively, during the run.
Cato's alley-oop dunk with 7:49 left in the period gave Houston
the lead for good, 24-23, and fellow reserve James Posey
the burst with a jumper that made it 34-23 with 4:40 left before
"Our defense carried us during that stretch," Houston coach Rudy
Tomjanovich said. "That is what the defense has to be like if
you want to win in this league."
The Timberwolves went more than six minutes without scoring
until Garnett nailed a turnaround jumper with 4:31 to play.
"We had great looks," said Minnesota guard Kendall Gill
scored 17 points. "We just couldn't hit a shot. Unfortunately,
that's a tell-tale sign of the game. When you miss jumpers, it
gives fast-break opportunities to them."
scored 19 points, Taylor a season-high 18 and
15 for the Rockets, who had lost four of their
previous six games. Rookie Yao Ming
finished with nine points
and 12 rebounds.
"Today, I especially felt like I did two years ago," said
Taylor, who missed last season with an Achilles tendon injury.
"I had lateral movement and my legs didn't get fatigued. It's
"Mo gave us an offensive lift," Tomjanovich said. "That was
what he did for us a couple of years ago."
added 14 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds for
Houston before fouling out with 3:34 left. The Rockets saw a
20-point lead with 5 1/2 minutes remaining dwindle to six before
holding off the Timberwolves down the stretch.
Houston is in seventh place in the Western Conference, 1 1/2
games ahead of Minnesota.
"It was real important," Francis said of the win. "This is a
team that we're battling against to make some postseason noise.
It's real important to play good against a team like Minnesota,
who has been there."
Garnett contributed 25 points and 16 rebounds for his
league-leading 28th double-double. But the Timberwolves shot
just 36 percent (28-of-78).
"We should've beat that team," Gill said. "They have a lot of
talent, but they're not as good as they can be. In the first
half, we were terrible. We couldn't hit any shots."