Houston Rockets 107, Minnesota Timberwolves 89: Balanced attack and defense leads to 6th win in a row

All of the Rockets starters went for double digits in a relatively easy win on the road.  The Rockets had a bad end of the third quarter and let the Wolves back to within 4.  It was 81 to 66 with 5:18 left in the third, and the Wolves went on a 12 to 1 run to end the quarter.  It was looking like our old Rockets issue of giving up leads until the Rockets outscored the Wolves 25 to 11 in the final quarter.

Give it up for the Rockets defense!  When’s the last time we talked positively about the D?  They were on an offensive roll in the first half with 67 points, but it was the defense that won the game, as the Rockets only scored 40 in the second half.  Patrick Beverley played a great game against Rubio.  He had 3 steals and was a disruptive force for much of the game, ending with a +/- of +20 and hit 4 threes.

The Rockets held the Wolves to 35% from the field and 24% from behind the line.  The Wolves looked tired without Martin and Pekovic. That’s 37 points missing from the starting lineup for the Wolves.  Jones held Love to 9 of 23 from the field and even though he got 31 points, he couldn’t make up for all the points the Wolves left on the injury report.  Jones also went for 14, going 7 for 11 from the field.

The Rockets are looking closer to whole as Garcia came back from his injury with 12 minutes and a couple of nice threes.  Omer Asik also was back, playing in his second game, and got 6 boards in only 10 minutes on the floor.  He’s looking really out of shape as he can barely run the floor, and his first free throw barely edged the front of the rim.  As a rim protector and a rebounder, the Rockets fans are eager for him to return to last years form for the post all star run.  He was a +/- of -10 though.  Compare that to Howard’s +27 and 18 points with 15 boards.

I’ve been seeing some calls in the national media for Howard to be considered for the Defensive MVP lately.  There aren’t many bigs that can match Howard’s play, and tonight Turiaf was overwhelmed.  Howard is really anchoring the middle for Houston and is worthy to be in the conversation for that Defensive MVP honor.  After a tough year in LA, Howard definitely made the right call to sign with Houston.

The Rockets continue to struggle with turnovers, posting 17  tonight and Howard led the Rockets with 6.  They are 27th in the league in turnovers and any progress in that department will pay dividends in holding leads and winning close games.

The Timberwolves are now 6 and a half games out of the 8th seed in the West and look to be in freefall.  While the Rockets are only 2 games back from the second seed in the West.  Though they are clearly not in the elite tier of the NBA, the Rockets are edging closer.  This stretch of games is playing to their advantage as they can get some easier wins under their belt nearing the homestretch.  A win against the Wizards would give the Rockets some momentum and put them on a 7 game win streak going into the All Star break.


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About the author: Eric Nielsen is the owner of Lotushouse Records, an English major from SDSU, a basketball player and life-long passionate Rockets fan. He’s been following the team since the days of Moses Malone, Rudy T. and Calvin Murphy.

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