HOUSTON, Jan. 17 (Ticker) --
The Minnesota Timberwolves came in on an
emotional high but posted a franchise record low.
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Managing just 26 points in the first half, the Timberwolves
never recovered and had their five-game winning streak snapped
with a 95-76 loss to the Houston Rockets, who got 22 points and
15 rebounds from Yao Ming
"We got our (rear end) kicked and that's all you can say about
it," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders
said. "They came out and
dominated us from the beginning to the end. They were very
aggressive and they contested us on every shot. This was a game
we have to shower off and get ready for the next one."
The Timberwolves had won 18 of their previous 21 games and were
coming off road victories over New Orleans and San Antonio. The
latter win vaulted them past the Spurs and into first place in
the Midwest Division.
Playing on ABC for the first time this season, Minnesota started
badly and got progressively worse. It trailed by 10 points
after one quarter, 19 at halftime and 30 late in the third
"We just want to forget about this game," Wolves guard Sam Cassell
said. "This game wasn't us. We didn't accomplish
The Wolves missed nine of their first 10 shots in the opening
period and 12 of their first 13 in the second quarter. They
trailed, 39-16, with just over five minutes to go in the first
"They hit us, hit us and hit us again before we even started to
play," Cassell said.
Minnesota broke the franchise record for fewest points in a
first half of 27, set April 12, 1997 against Atlanta.
added 19 points, eight rebounds and seven assists
and Maurice Taylor
scored 16 points off the bench for the
Rockets, who have won three in a row and seven of nine.
"Minnesota is a good team. They're definitely one of the
hottest teams," Francis said. "We proved today that we're able
to play with the people that are considered the big boys."
Cassell scored 25 points and Kevin Garnett
added 19 for the
Wolves, who shot just 37 percent (29-of-79) and were manhandled,
51-28, on the boards.
During a 9 1/2-minute stretch that bridged the first two
quarters, Houston scored 16 straight points while Minnesota
missed 13 straight shots.
"We tried to be intense with our defense from the start," Taylor
said. "They are the best shooting team (by percentage) in the
league, but we have the best defense (by percentage) in the
league. That first half was the best defense we've played all
year. When we play defense like that, we're good.
"We couldn't have thrown a beach ball into the ocean," said
Garnett, who made just 7-of-20 shots. "It was not a pretty
A 3-pointer by Jim Jackson
, who scored 11 points, gave Houston
its largest lead at 68-38 late in the third quarter.