Posted Feb 4 2007 8:20PM
After dominating opponents at home for the first few months of the season, the Houston Rockets suddenly appear vulnerable on their home court. They'll look to get back on track at the Toyota Center when they face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night.
The Rockets (29-17) were 13-3 at home Jan. 16, but have lost three of their last seven in Houston, including a lackluster 87-74 defeat to New Orleans on Saturday.
The Rockets had their worst offensive performance of 2006-07, setting a season low for points and matched season lows for first-quarter points (15) and first-half points (30). They were outrebounded for only the 16th time in 46 games this season, giving up a 49-36 edge on the boards.
The loss snapped Houston's four-game win streak, and may have been a wake-up call for a Rockets team that's 4-4 in its last eight games.
"Sometimes, you're getting results that you like even though the play isn't what you'd like," coach Jeff Van Gundy said of his team's recent four-game run. "We're forgetting how hard it is to win."
The Rockets hope to remember what it takes as they host a Minnesota team that has struggled on the road. The Wolves (22-25) have lost six of their last seven away from the Target Center and are 9-16 overall on the road. They're 4-12 on the road against Western Conference opponents.
Minnesota has lost nine of its last 11 overall, including three in a row by a combined 10 points.
Ricky Davis had 20 points, six rebounds and five assists, but the Wolves fell 94-93 at Dallas on Saturday. Minnesota trailed by as many as 17 in the third quarter, but battled back with a 9-0 run.
Kevin Garnett had 10 points and seven rebounds in the fourth quarter as the Wolves outscored Dallas 24-16 in that period before falling short. Garnett finished with 25 points and 12 boards for his league-leading 40th double-double this season.
The Wolves attempted only four free throws in a lopsided first half, while Dallas made 17 of its 19 foul shots.
"It's like a broken record. Our guys fought and hung in there," said Minnesota coach Randy Wittman, 2-5 since replacing Dwane Casey. "We were aggressive, but four free throws in the first half, I didn't think we got a fair whistle."
Minnesota has taken two of three meetings with Houston coming into Monday's season series finale. The Wolves lost to the Rockets 82-75 in Houston on Nov. 28, snapping Minnesota's four-game win streak at the Toyota Center.
Since then, the Wolves have beaten the Rockets twice in Minneapolis, including a 103-99 overtime victory in the teams' last meeting Jan. 7.
Garnett is averaging 25.0 points, 12.0 rebounds and 52.9 percent shooting in the three matchups between the clubs, while the Wolves have held Rockets star Tracy McGrady to 17.7 points and 6.0 boards on 32.8 shooting.
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