MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 4 (Ticker) --
Five days later, the Minnesota
Timberwolves had the better foreign big man.
NBA TV highlights from|
outplayed rookie Yao Ming
and Kevin Garnett
fell an assist shy of a triple-double as the Timberwolves posted
a 103-89 victory over the Houston Rockets.
In Friday's 20-point victory over the Wolves, the Rockets
received a big game from their Chinese All-Star center while
Minnesota did not get much from its Yugoslavian big man.
The 7-5 Yao had 24 points and 13 rebounds in the victory while
the 7-foot Nesterovic totaled just nine and three.
Nesterovic turned the tables in this one, finishing with 19
points on 9-of-14 shooting while grabbing six rebounds. Yao
finished with a respectable 12 points and 10 boards.
Nesterovic established himself early, getting a variety of easy
baskets in the first quarter as he scored 11 points on 5-of-9
"He (Nesterovic) got a lot of good looks - picking up dish-offs
and loose balls and flipping them in," Rockets coach Rudy
The 7-foot Garnett actually was better than both big men,
totaling 23 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
"KG was a monster again," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said.
"You can take anyone else in the league and if you put him on
our team, we would not have 29 wins."
added 17 points and Wally Szczerbiak
Minnesota, which won for the eighth time in 10 games and moved a
season-high nine games over .500 at 29-20.
A pair of foul shots by Cuttino Mobley
, who scored 17 points,
had the Rockets within 65-64 with just over two minutes
remaining in the third quarter.
But Anthony Peeler
hit a 17-footer and rookie Igor Rakocevic
drilled a 3-pointer, triggering a 9-3 spurt that closed the
quarter and gave the Timberwolves a seven-point cushion.
Garnett carried the Wolves in the quarter, scoring 10 points as
Minnesota shot a blistering 70 percent (14-of-20) in the period.
Szczerbiak added eight points in the quarter.
In addition to his scoring, Garnett also passed out of numerous
double-teams and found open teammates. That helped the Wolves
shoot 55 percent (43-of-78) overall.
"We haven't had a game where somebody scored at a percentage
like that in a long time," Tomjanovich said. "That had been
our trademark all season. They shot the ball extremely well.
They took smart shots, much like we did at home last week."
Like the Rockets, the Wolves also resorted to the double-team.
But unlike their counterparts, the Wolves enjoyed success.
Minnesota ran two defenders at Yao nearly every time he touched
the ball and limited him to just seven shots.
"They used to do that to Dream (Hakeem Olajuwon)," Rockets guard
Mobley said. "We haven't seen a double-team like that,
I don't think all year. They came pretty fast."
Struggling to figure out the Wolves' defense, the Rockets shot
44 percent (34-of-78).
"We didn't have the patience to beat this team," Tomjanovich
said. "We had been shooting the ball pretty good, but he
(Garnett) has a lot to do with that, with his presence. He's so
effective with his length. Having two 7-footers on the floor is
tough. We got trapped on the right side of the floor, where you
have to throw across your body. Yao can do that, but with a
defense that's so long, it's so tough."
The Rockets also had a big game from their superstar as Steve
scored 31 points, making 11-of-21 shots.
Francis scored five points in a 10-3 surge to start the fourth
quarter, helping the Rockets close to 77-75 with 10:20 to play.
But Kendall Gill
made two foul shots and Hudson drilled a
3-pointer off a pass by Garnett out of a double-team for an
82-75 advantage with just under nine minutes left. The Rockets
got no closer the rest of the way.
"We haven't changed our scheme to have me score more," Hudson
said. "Kevin has been doubled and tripled, and he's been
finding the open man."