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Love puts up a big line, but balanced Rockets keep rolling to sixth straight win

Feb 11, 2014, 1:30 AM EDT

Houston Rockets v Minnesota Timberwolves Getty Images

Just before the All-Star break and a celebration of the game’s biggest names we bring you this reminder:

Basketball is still a team game.

The Timberwolves’ Kevin Love was the best scorer on the floor Monday night when Houston came to Minnesota. With no Kevin Martin (thumb) and no Nikola Pekovic it puts a lot more on Love’s plate and he was trying, knocking down midrange jumpers (5-of-8 from there), attacking and getting to the line (12-of-12 from there) and he ended up with 31 points.

However the Rockets were the better team — all five starters had at least 14 points and at least 11 shots (a sign of balance). They were moving the ball which led to hitting Patrick Beverly for open threes (4-of-8) or Dwight Howard as he was rim running. The result was an eFG% of 54.3 percent for the Rockets compared to 39 percent for the Timberwolves. Another reminder: if you shoot the ball better you usually win.

The Rockets did win, 107-89, their sixth straight victory. This was the Timberwolves fourth straight loss.

Houston had made this recent run thanks to their offense, which had averaged 114 points per 100 possessions in the previous five wins, and they had a good but not as great 107.2 points per 100 Monday night.

But they used some timely defense and bad shooting by Minnesota to hold the Timberwolves to 91.5. The problem for the Timberwolves was the missed shots, their poor floor balance off those misses, and a few turnovers led to some easy buckets for the Rockets going the other way. Minnesota could never make up that ground.

Minnesota was packing it in early on Dwight Howard but the Rockets still had 18 more points in the paint. Houston would have actually likely blown this game open in the second quarter had it not been for the fact they had turnovers on 19 percent of their possessions on the night — the sloppy turnovers killed their runs and kept Minnesota hanging around.

Until the start of the fourth, when the Rockets went on an 11-0 run to pull away for good. They got eight points from Chandler Parsons in that quarter, he finished with a team high 20, and Howard had four of his 18 points in the final frame (he finished with 15 rebounds, too). Patrick Beverly brought some defensive energy and that helped launch team fourth quarter, making a couple blocks on Alexey Shved, which became transition buckets for the Rockets.

These are two teams headed in opposite directions right now, and for a Minnesota team now 7 games out of the playoffs in the West it should lead to a little soul searching.

  1. 1forest1 - Feb 11, 2014 at 2:03 AM

    Rockets looking good. Perhaps one of the deepest teams in the league, especially when Asik is playing

  2. fmvonmanstein - Feb 11, 2014 at 3:18 AM

    I notice this articles comments section is short of the usual vitriol aimed in Dwight Howard’s direction. Laker fans haven’t got much good to talk about at the moment, considering how bad they suck this season.

    The only 4-5 punch comparable to Dwight and T.Jones is probably Hibbert and West.

    Who cares who starts at point, we have the luxury of 3 starting quality point guards on the team. PG by Committee is fine.

    Harden is the best SG in the West this season. Yes that includes Kobe, you can’t be the best if you aren’t playing.

    And then you have Parsons, team USA is stupid for not selecting him to be a part of their selection squad. His style of play is perfect for international basketball. They’ll regret that one.

    It’s good to be a Rockets fan at the moment.

    • fanofthegame79 - Feb 11, 2014 at 7:09 AM

      I’m not a Rockets fan, but you’re right, they do look good right now. They have a nice, balance offense that can play inside and hurt you from the outside with both shooting and slashing. I’m a big Kevin McHale fan and being an ASU graduate, I’ll always cheer for a Sun Devil so Harden has my vote of confidence, too. If they can keep this up, they’ll be a formidable opponent in the West.

    • musician0785 - Feb 11, 2014 at 9:14 AM

      People love to take shots at laker fans….

      “I notice this articles comments section is short of the usual vitriol aimed in Dwight Howard’s direction. Laker fans haven’t got much good to talk about at the moment, considering how bad they suck this season.”

      You say that as if Laker fans were the only ones aiming “vitriol” at D12. Nice to know that even when the team isn’t good, the Lakers are still on your mind.

    • asimonetti88 - Feb 11, 2014 at 11:06 AM

      “I notice this articles comments section is short of the usual vitriol aimed in Dwight Howard’s direction. Laker fans haven’t got much good to talk about at the moment, considering how bad they suck this season.”

      Perhaps not many people are surprised that a playoff team beat a non-playoff team?

      • au1978 - Feb 11, 2014 at 5:01 PM

        Ummm…the Rockets have beat Portland, San Antonio, Phoenix, Dallas, Golden State, etc. all playoff teams.

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