Minnesota Timberwolves 92, Houston Rockets 79: Rock Bottom Hits Hard

The Houston Rockets put forth their worst effort of the season, a dismal 79 point outing. They shot a miserable 32% from the field, including a mere 29% from behind the arc. The Rockets committed 29 team fouls and turned the ball over 20 times against the Timberwolves, a performance that would lose to any team in the league. Despite that, the Rockets still stayed within striking distance through the majority of the game, which Houston has to hope is rock bottom for their season.

The Rockets find themselves at .500 on the season once again, their 21-21 barely good enough for 9th in the west. After obliterating teams like the Grizzlies and Bulls, the Rockets lost their 7 game cushion in sobering fashion. After their 10th game in 15 days, and the last of 5 consecutive pairs of back to back games, the Rockets will soon be able to rest between games. In the meantime, they suffered a cavalcade of mistakes and misses in seven straight games, including being put away by a badly floundering Timberwolves Team.

Despite being without seven of their players, including Kevin Love, Dante Cunningham Nikola Pekovic and Alexei Shved, the Timberwolves only ever trailed by one point, and only for a few brief moments. Andrei Kirilenko led the way, hurtling and scrapping at both ends of the court. Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea also played well, though the real surprises came in the form of two recent acquisitions. Chris Johnson and Mickael Gelabale both played well, especially down the stretch. The Timberwolves turned in an ugly performance, but it was less ugly than the frustrated performance the Rockets turned in.

James Harden led the Rockets with 18 points on 5-18 shooting. He also led the team in assists and turnovers (5 and 4 respectively), had one fewer rebound than Smith’s team-leading 8, and tied for most steals and fouls (2 and 5). Harden did it all, even when that included mistakes. He tried to take the game over late, but it was too little, too late.

Greg Smith had probably the best evening for the Rockets (12 points, 6-9 shooting, 8 rebounds, 1 turnover), though Delfino had a decent outing as well (15 points, 5-12 shooting, 4-9 threes). Asik fouled early and often, resulting in him playing a paltry 15:35. Patrick Beverly continued to eat Toney Douglas’ minutes, and both played mediocre. The entire team was half-hearted and exhausted; Parsons and Patterson combined to shoot a stultifying 3-13.

Exhaustion game way to frustration as everything continued to go wrong for the Rockets in the second half. Their body language shifted to anger as the game got out of hand. Whether it was to horrific shooting, the large four differential, the physical exhaustion or the knowledge that the losses are piling up, the Rockets looks madder and more fatalistic than any point so far in this season.  The Rockets badly need for this loss to be rock bottom for them. The Charlotte Bobcats are next on the docket, and their 10-30 record suggests that a win is possible.

Unfortunately, the Rockets will absolutely have to play better if they hope to get a win in any city in the league. Shooting 32% is a formula for failure in any circumstance, and one single day of rest may not be enough to pick up those dropping percentages. The Rockets’ grim fortunes and unhappy temperaments continue to worsen, and their only desire right now has to be avoiding an 8th straight loss.

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Houston Rockets @ Minnesota Timberwolves on 1/19/2013