Shootaround Access: Wolves vs. Rockets | Feb. 10, 2014


Timberwolves vs. Rockets | 7:00 PM — Target Center

Where to Watch: Fox Sports North

Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM

The Houston Rockets have won eight of their last 11 games, including five straight.

In related news, center Dwight Howard is off to a very strong month of February. In three games this month, Howard is averaging 29 points (well above his season average of 18.8), 11.4 rebounds and two assists per contest.

His overall season numbers look nearly identical to his career averages, but over the course of this season, Houston head coach Kevin McHale thinks that Howard has done a much better job of passing the ball once he’s double teamed inside.

“He’s been very efficient and they’ve been double-teaming him. He’s a very good and a very willing passer,” McHale said. “He passes out of the post very well and led us in assists the other night with five and actually when they double-team Dwight, it’s actually good for us. I like it, I think players like it. He’s a very willing passer and he’s been very good down there.”

The Wolves will be without their center Nikola Pekovic (ankle), which hurts on the offensive end, but replacement Ronny Turiaf should give the Wolves a boost defensively. Turiaf’s had multiple blocks in five straight games. It will be interesting to see whether or not the Wolves close in on Howard when he has the ball downlow. It’s kind of a “pick your poison” as the Rockets have guys on the perimeter like James Harden and Chandler Parsons that can shoot from the outside.

“He’s done a good job of making plays for himself and if he’s getting double teamed, make the right pass out and that’s helping us out a lot,” Harden said on Howard’s recent improvements.

Trying To Stop Love

Kevin Love (quad) is questionable tonight, but the Rockets know they have their hands full if Love does indeed play.

McHale was with the Timberwolves when the team drafted Love back in 2008. McHale said after shootaround on Monday that he thought Love would be good, but never thought he’d be this good.

“I thought Kevin would be a double-double guy and you know, he could really rebound, rebound outside, he had great hands and he had a really good 15-17 foot jump shot and with that alone I said he could be a 15-10 guy,” McHale said. “You know, but like I said, he took it to a whole nother level, and good for him.”

The basketball world has noticed Love’s success on the basketball court, proved by Love being voted into Sunday’s All-Star game as a starter. Harden, who played against Love in college as a member of the Arizona State Wildcats and throughout high school, said that he’s not impressed with Love.

Huh? Not impressed with a double-double machine who can rebound, shoot from deep and has the passing accuracy of Peyton Manning (before the Super Bowl)?

“I’m not impressed, because he’s been doing it for a long time,” Harden said. “He’s been doing it since high school, rebounding the ball at a high level, scoring the ball at a high level, outlet passes are amazing still. It’s the same Kevin Love.”

Obviously with Love on the court, things change dramatically for both teams. Check back in at for Love’s status heading into tonight.

The Wolves and Rockets face off tonight at 7 p.m. at the Target Center. The game will air on Fox Sports North and WCCO 830-AM.

For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.