Scouting Report: Wolves at Rockets
Wolves (22-40) at Houston (35-30) — 7:00 PM Toyota Center
Where to Watch: My29, NBA TV
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM
View Timberwolves Game Notes
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After playing Dallas and San Antonio this week, the Wolves will get their shot at the third and final Texas franchise when they head to Toyota Center in Houston to face the Rockets tonight. Tip-off is set for 7 PM on My29, NBA TV and 830 WCCO-AM.
James Harden had a hot start to this season and hasn’t slowed up, averaging 26.2 PPG, good for fifth in the league. The radical overhaul this roster went through this offseason received a major boost with the addition of Harden, and it’s largely thanks to his production that Houston is scoring the most points per game (106.9) in the league.
The Rockets haven’t had a big breakdown since dropping seven in a row (including one to Minnesota) from Jan. 9 to Jan. 19. Chandler Parsons, their second-year forward who averages 15.2 PPG, recently dropped 32 points on Dallas and is shooting remarkably better than his rookie campaign. Add in Jeremy Lin averaging 14.8 PPG and 6.1 APG, and you’ve got a core of young players (all under 24) that are proving a lot of critics wrong about Houston basketball this year.
Last Time Out: Jan. 19, 2013
Either the Timberwolves or the Rockets were going to walk away from the Target Center with a snapped losing streak, and despite an unfamiliar lineup, the Wolves snapped their five-game skid with a 92-79 victory over Houston.
And it was two unlikely heroes that led the way. Center Chris Johnson and forward Mickael Gelabale, each of whom signed 10-day contracts that morning, combined to score the Wolves’ first 23 points in the fourth quarter—energizing a team that had nine healthy players dressed for the game.
The shorthanded Wolves have had to clock a lot of minutes, and having two pairs of fresh legs not only helped with the energy level, but Johnson and Gelabale helped turn it around in the fourth quarter after Houston had a big 10-2 run to close out the third.
Wolves acting head coach Terry Porter applauded Johnson’s ability to run the floor—his efforts helped the Wolves maintain a lead and close out the game.
“I just thought the activity was great in regard to our offense,” Porter said. “Having great patience, making them defend us, it was just a solid effort I thought throughout the whole game.”
James Harden scored just 18 points on 5-of-18 shooting for the Rockets, which lost their seventh straight game—a slide they hadn’t seen since Jan. 6-18, 2006.
Key Matchup: James Harden and Luke Ridnour
Harden is one of the most dynamic players in the league. Complete with his iconic beard and eurostep move, he can score relentlessly from inside and out. Two games ago, he exploded for 38 points against Phoenix, making 7-of-10 from 3-point range. Look eight games back, and he had a 46-point game against Oklahoma City, his old squad. Harden is simply capable of scoring 30+ on any given night.
For a team that seems to have a new injury each night, Luke Ridnour has been their ironman. He has started all 62 games, the only Wolves player to do so. He has also been forced almost the entire season to play at shooting guard rather than his preferred position of point guard; this has resulted in unfavorable matchups all year, as some of his opponents are 6-foot-5 or taller. One of those is Harden tonight, and limiting him as much as possible is key for Ridnour and Minnesota.
Injury report presented by TSR Injury Law
The Wolves will likely again be without Andrei Kirilenko (left calf strain) and Nikola Pekovic (abdominal strain) tonight—both are listed as doubtful against the Rockets. Minnesota received mixed news on their longterm injury front this week as Chase Budinger was cleared for full contact practice, but Kevin Love will be re-evaluated in 2-3 weeks. The Rockets do not have any players listed on the injury report.
|Tonight's Probable Starters|
|PG||Ricky Rubio||Jeremy Lin|
|SG||Luke Ridnour||James Harden|
|SF||Mickael Gelabale||Chandler Parsons|
|PF||Derrick Williams||Dontas Motiejunas|
|C||Greg Stiemsma||Omer Asik|