Minnesota Timberwolves @ Houston Rockets on 11/23/2013

It’s cold and wet in Houston. Dreary gray skies and swampy, dribbling rain aren’t new in Houston. What’s new is that the sunny blue skies the Rockets hoped for have been replaced by a chilly, unpleasant drizzle of unmet expectation. It could be far worse. The Rockets could be caught up in the storm which seems to have enveloped both New York teams at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, or the tornado of injury could have struck. Instead, the Minnesota Timberwolves head to Houston tomorrow, and they’re also fully familiar with chilly, wet days.

Both teams need to prove that they aren’t in that middle tier of Western Conference powers. The Rockets, presumed an elite team, have looked sullen and apathetic through much of the young season. If the pattern doesn’t change, the Rockets may find themselves looking at the wrong side of a 1-8 seed matchup in the spring. The Timberwolves were seen as a team on the playoff bubble, especially after a year completely devastated by injury. They’ve surpassed expectations so far, but have been slowing down with a few unexpected losses. Both teams need all the wins they can get in an increasingly brutal Western Conference, and both teams are likely to attack in force.

Longtime Rockets fans will be familiar with Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman, the high-profile coach who helmed the Rockets from 2007 to 2011. His partnership with shooting guard Kevin Martin started in Sacramento, traveled to Houston and now finds its way to Minnesota, where Kevin Martin is having a solid year. The entire team was predicted to be an offensive powerhouse behind the playmaking of Ricky Rubio and the marksmanship of Kevin Love, but their defense has been surprisingly capable so far. The Wolves split their series against the Los Angeles Clippers, a feat which the Rockets found impossible.

The primary concern for the Rockets isn’t Kevin Love, a player who’s making a solid case for MVP so far. The worry isn’t Ricky Rubio, either, an exceptional on-ball defender at the point guard position and a passer extraordinaire. The biggest issue the Rockets face in this matchup is Rick Adelman, a man who’s not only one of the most offensively gifted coaches in the NBA, but also a man with intimate knowledge of the Rockets and their methods. Aaron Brooks may be the only player on the Rockets who played in the Adelman years, but that won’t save them. The Wolves have played the Rockets tough for the past few seasons, and Adelman’s prowess is a huge part of that.

How do the Rockets use their talent and size to beat a coach who is quite frankly more crafty than Rockets Kevin McHale? That’s easier said than done, and it’s not particularly easily said. Forcing the other team to play Houston’s way is the go-to method for success in most situations, but in this case a high-paced high-scoring affair is right up their alley. Going to Howard in the post might be a workable plan, given that big man Nikola Pekovic is an able defender but not in the elite. Kevin Martin’s defense also leaves much to be desired, making a pick and roll involving his cover (presumably James Harden) the best choice.

This may become a nightmare matchup for Houston, with Jones Struggling to stay with Love while Rubio dances circles around Jeremy Lin. Harden’s tendency toward ball watching will leave Mertin open for plenty of backdoor cuts, a trademark of Adelman’s offense. If the Rockets are to win, they’ll do it on the offensive end, giving us a front-row seat to a high-flying Western Conference shootout yet again. Houston’s designed to be able to win those kinds of matches. But with the gray clouds hovering over them lately, they’re just as good at losing those kind of shootouts.

View this discussion from the forum.

This entry was posted in game coverage and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.
Login to leave a comment.
Total comments: 35
  • thenit says 9 months ago

    on the other hand the majority of our FG made was assisted which shows that ball movement was good

  • rockets best fan says 9 months ago

    Sure, whenever you hit 55% from 3.

    I honestly was incredibly disappointed in this game. Houston played horribly sloppy, undisciplined ball on the offense, tried to get into a track meet with the Wolves, and still weren't that great with the defensive rotations. They got away with it tonight because they were absolutely hot shooting for once this season, but that shooting I doubt will occur three more times this season. I kept waiting for it to fade as the game progressed, and for the Wolves for finally come back and win....and it just didn't happen.

    disappointed is to strong a word, hard to be disappointed about wins :)but I agree the sloppiness, undisciplined playmade me uncomfortable. we had 24.........that's right 24 turnovers. they scored 37 points off our turnovers. that's a recipe for disaster. another thing that really got to me....the offensive rebounds. they had 18 that's right 18 offensive rebounds. what worries me is both of these stats seem to be becoming a trend.I agree.......what happens when the shot stop falling?

  • Buckko says 9 months ago I disagree entirely RPM, besides the turnovers this was a great game. I was waiting for them to stop turning the ball over for a few mins and completly blow the wolves out of the water. Also when we play without harden we eliminate all those inffecient ISOs and have much better ball movement and more open shots. Even though harden is our best player and one of the top scorers, he tries too hard to be the man and forces bad plays. He isn't KD and needs to stop trying to be.
  • HoopsReportCard says 9 months ago

    Pretty interesting how clean the game was (from a free throw/fouls-called perspective). Only 16 or 17 free throw attempts per team. Compare that to other games, where the Rockets lead the league by far in free throw attempts. No hack-A-Howard, hot shooting and HIGH turnovers is the sum of "this" game.

  • Richards says 9 months ago

    Rockets- Better without Harden?

    Ball movement is always better without Harden. But when leading scorer was out, it is tough to put up points. I love Harden for his points but hate to see ISO and ball hogging.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 9 months ago Anyone see Lin's head? Lol.
  • PKM says 9 months ago

    Rockets- Better without Harden?

    Sure, whenever you hit 55% from 3.

    I honestly was incredibly disappointed in this game. Houston played horribly sloppy, undisciplined ball on the offense, tried to get into a track meet with the Wolves, and still weren't that great with the defensive rotations. They got away with it tonight because they were absolutely hot shooting for once this season, but that shooting I doubt will occur three more times this season. I kept waiting for it to fade as the game progressed, and for the Wolves for finally come back and win....and it just didn't happen.

  • 2016Champions says 9 months ago

    I agree with you 2016. Why play Harden if he suffering from a foot injury. Then cut down on Lin and Brooks minutes. Makes no sense.

    Yeah, it makes no sense to me either.

  • BrentYen says 9 months ago

    Make him play defense? Get him in foul trouble? What do you think Brent?


    I asked because I really don know, and....we did not stop him in the end. Really great that AB stepped up big time.
  • datruth says 9 months ago

    I agree with you 2016. Why play Harden if he suffering from a foot injury. Then cut down on Lin and Brooks minutes. Makes no sense.

  • feelingsupersonic says 9 months ago

    It really worries me that despite his foot injury, which is a serious matter because it can lead to a hairline fracture, McHale still played him big minutes. I'm glad Harden is taking games off since McHale is so bad at minutes management and rotations.

    As for the game tonight I am very happy with how good we look despite our turnovers, can you imagine how good we would look with less turnovers? We definitely have something special brewing, it's just a matter of time and experience.


    Hard to really judge McHale from our vantage point. I would take the opposite view that Harden probably wanted to play those minutes and the coaching staff finally convinced him to take a couple games off.
  • 2016Champions says 9 months ago

    Aaron Brooks impacted this game and Minnesota just had no counter. Good team play overall considering how early in the season it is and the 48 minutes of strong center play was too much for the Timberwolves who are really underperforming on the road and it showed tonight.

    Harden has obviously been playing through injuries which explains some criticisms aimed at him. Hopefully he takes enough time off to get healed and maybe some bench guys get some run.

    It really worries me that despite his foot injury, which is a serious matter because it can lead to a hairline fracture, McHale still played him big minutes. I'm glad Harden is taking games off since McHale is so bad at minutes management and rotations.

    As for the game tonight I am very happy with how good we look despite our turnovers, can you imagine how good we would look with less turnovers? We definitely have something special brewing, it's just a matter of time and experience.

  • feelingsupersonic says 9 months ago

    Rockets- Better without Harden?


    That is pretty funny.
  • Dan G says 9 months ago

    I have a feeling Aaron Brooks won't be #11 on next week's power rankings.

  • kevingan says 9 months ago

    Rockets- Better without Harden?

    Nah--and I'm a huge Jeremy Lin fan! But I hope he takes the time to recover fully: nagging foot injuries are very, very dangerous. Bill Walton? Grant Hill? No no no! Get all the way better, JH!

  • metta3311 says 9 months ago

    Rockets- Better without Harden?

  • feelingsupersonic says 9 months ago Aaron Brooks impacted this game and Minnesota just had no counter. Good team play overall considering how early in the season it is and the 48 minutes of strong center play was too much for the Timberwolves who are really underperforming on the road and it showed tonight.

    Harden has obviously been playing through injuries which explains some criticisms aimed at him. Hopefully he takes enough time off to get healed and maybe some bench guys get some run.
  • Cooper says 9 months ago Welcome back Aaron brooks
  • 2016Champions says 9 months ago

    Our perimeter defense looks worlds better without Harden, and despite how quiet Lin has been offensively you have to give him props for the defensive job he's doing on Kevin Martin. Jeremy Lin is shutting Kevin Martin down.

    Speaking of great defense, I'm getting a bit of a man crush on Terrence Jones because he continues to impress me on both sides of the floor. Houston, we have a power forward.

  • thejohnnygold says 9 months ago

    I fully expect Lin to have a strong game tonight. I'm unsure why anyone would be upset that he has been put in a position to succeed and get that 19 PER.

  • myjohnlai says 9 months ago

    It's Harden who is play acting as point guard now. Lin is not a factor anymore in the Houston's lineup. A guard of PER rating close to 19 was replaced by one with a PER rating less than 13. As long as they think it's justified, it's OK with me.
    The better team will win. It's more likely to be the Timberwolves who is more disciplined on the court, but the Rockets do have home court advantage. So, it's a toss up.

  • rockets best fan says 9 months ago

    I sure hope you are wrong in that feeling you are having JG. we need this game. especially after that Dallas game. one of the first steps any championship team must take is the ability to bounce back even against a good teamafter a bad loss. I'm hoping we take that step today

  • 2016Champions says 9 months ago

    I hate to say it, but I feel a loss coming tonight. Kevin Martin has been shooting very well from 3 and apparently playing the Rockets enhances that. While I believe we can defend against Pek and Love, Rubio will break down the defense and we are going to give up a lot of points in the paint. Meanwhile, Brewer (theirs, not ours) has been killing teams in transition and they've got JJ Barea coming in off the bench to torch our back-ups (as he seems to do to every team).

    Unless our threes are falling at 40% or better I think we are going to get out-classed and out-hustled tonight. :( It's not what I want, but I think Minny is very good and hitting on all cylinders right now....us, not so much.

    I can see it being another high scoring game much like the last one, Minny will rain 3s, but I think we will win this time because we're going to be hungry for redemption.

  • thejohnnygold says 9 months ago

    I hate to say it, but I feel a loss coming tonight. Kevin Martin has been shooting very well from 3 and apparently playing the Rockets enhances that. While I believe we can defend against Pek and Love, Rubio will break down the defense and we are going to give up a lot of points in the paint. Meanwhile, Brewer (theirs, not ours) has been killing teams in transition and they've got JJ Barea coming in off the bench to torch our back-ups (as he seems to do to every team).

    Unless our threes are falling at 40% or better I think we are going to get out-classed and out-hustled tonight. :( It's not what I want, but I think Minny is very good and hitting on all cylinders right now....us, not so much.

  • datruth says 9 months ago

    We have more talent than Minnesota but we must stop giving games away. .

  • 2016Champions says 9 months ago

    We need to stop letting teams kill us with 3s, force them to take more mid range shots.

  • rockets best fan says 9 months ago

    Make him play defense? Get him in foul trouble? What do you think Brent?

    Love can not win by his self. make K-Love work for his and keep the others from making any noise and we should be just fine. then again I said that about Dirk and Dallas and we see what happened

  • feelingsupersonic says 9 months ago

    Make him play defense? Get him in foul trouble? What do you think Brent?

  • BrentYen says 9 months ago

    How do we stop K Love?

  • rockets best fan says 9 months ago

    We have 2 days rest at home against a team coming in on the back end of a b2b, they really should win this

    I second that. besides Adelman may be a superior coach, but he is working with far less talent

  • feelingsupersonic says 9 months ago

    With the exception of Dallas those teams all have returning core players and the Mavs are just a high powered offense of smoke and mirrors though they do have Carlisle. The Rockets are the team that will show the most dramatic improvement as Howard and Harden are playing together for the first time.

  • rm90025 says 9 months ago

    With Dallas resurgent, Minnesota and Portland looking good, Denver getting healthier and better and Memphis clawing its way into contention as they always do, the Rockets will have a hard time making the playoffs (barring major injury to these competitors). The West is that deep this year.

  • RollingWave says 9 months ago

    We have 2 days rest at home against a team coming in on the back end of a b2b, they really should win this

  • thenit says 9 months ago If I remember correctly Lin played well against Rubio last year. I think bev did a good job too. You need to go under the screens and dare him to shoot
  • Hemingway says 9 months ago

    Rubio vs Lin/Bev, Love and Pek going at Howard, Harden going right back, luminaries such as Parsons and KMart lighting it up, and Brewer and others slamming it home. What a game folks.