Game 24 Preview: Houston Rockets vs Minnesota Timberwolves

Houston Rockets (13-10) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (11-12)

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USE THE FORCE, KYLE LOWRY!

USE THE FORCE, KYLE LOWRY!

Last game: Minnesota: W, 108-105 vs New Jersey, Houston: 99-81 vs Phoenix

The Timberwolves fought through a tough game last night on the road against the Nets, allowing essentially everything ever to go wrong, but still managing to leave with a win. Anthony Morrow hit (approximately) 150 three-pointers, but Nikola Pekovic scored a career-high 27 points for the Wolves, who improved to 11-12 on the season.

The Rockets snapped a two game losing streak last night against the Suns, winning easily in Houston. The bench scored 50 points, and the Rockets weren’t seriously threatened after taking a 20 point half-time lead. Kevin Martin led Rockets scorers with 17.

The Key Questions

#1. Seriously, we have to play these guys again?

Three times in two weeks. At least we can expect both teams to be well scouted. Just as a reminder: in the first meeting, Kevin Martin absolutely torched the Wolves and Houston handled Minnesota easily, 107-92 at the Target Center. But earlier this week, the Wolves handed the Rockets just their third loss at home, 120-108. Michael Beasley had his best game of the year thus far, scoring 34 points on 10-14 shooting. So basically, one can expect to have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen tonight.

#2. What will we get from Pekovic tonight?

Pek has been playing great lately. His advantages offensively over Darko are striking. He is incredibly strong and he uses his huge body to get closer to the basket. Plus, unlike Darko, he actually has touch around the rim. It’s difficult to predict what Adelman will do on a night to night basis lineup-wise, but it’s not hard to imagine Pekovic getting a start tonight based on his performance over the past week.

#3. Why has .500 become such an elusive goal?

Yet another chance for Minnesota to get to .500 tonight. It would be the latest in the season they reached that mark since the KG-era. I don’t know what that means, but it feels quite significant.

The Key Matchups

Kevin Love has played really well against the Rockets, scoring 29 and 39 in the last two games. Luis Scola has scored 15 and 8 in those games, so outplaying Scola will be important for Love.

The Ricky Rubio vs. Kyle Lowry match-up has been interesting. Last week Rubio made several costly turnovers that enabled Houston to go on a huge run to put away the Wolves, while Lowry scored 16 points and dished out 10 assists. But on Monday, Rubio flirted with a triple double (18 points, 11 assists, 8 rebounds) while Lowry had just 11 points and 3 assists. It seems fair to say that whoever plays better will put his team in a good position to win.

The Rockets don’t have anyone who matches up well against Michael Beasley. If Beasley plays smart, efficient basketball again tonight, there’s no reason he can’t have a good follow up performance to his last game against Houston. Also, if I win the lottery, there’s no reason I can’t be rich tomorrow.

The Outlook

Both teams played last night, both teams had some serious travel to get here, and both teams have been playing well lately, so the game should be very close. I honestly don’t have a prediction for this one, but I’ll be at the game tonight and I’ll be tweeting about it quite a bit, so (shameless self-plug) follow me!

Game starts at 7 on League Pass