News » Rockets-Timberwolves Preview 2009-11-18

Rockets-Timberwolves Preview 2009-11-18

Rockets-Timberwolves Preview 2009-11-18Since a three-game winning streak in the first week of the season, the Houston Rockets have alternated losses and wins.

Following a loss to the Pacific Division leaders, the Rockets will have a good chance to continue that trend Wednesday night at the Target Center.

Houston goes for its ninth straight victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are hoping Al Jefferson's return will help them snap a 10-game overall slide.

Coming off Sunday's 101-91 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, the Rockets (6-5) failed to win consecutive games for the first time since a three-game run Oct. 28-Nov. 2, falling 111-105 to Phoenix on Tuesday. Houston, which led the Suns by as many as 15 points in the second quarter, got outscored 33-23 in the final 12 minutes.

"We are trying to figure out what's good for us, especially down the stretch," Rockets forward Shane Battier said. "That's something we are going to have to go through and look at this game, learn from our mistakes in the fourth quarter and grow."

Carl Landry came off the bench and scored a career-high 27 points with nine rebounds, while first-year Rocket Trevor Ariza hit three of his five 3-point attempts and had 19 points.

Ariza averaged 9.8 points and 1.8 steals in four games versus the Timberwolves in 2008-09, while playing for the Lakers.

Minnesota (1-10) and rookie point guard Jonny Flynn will also have to find a way to slow down Rockets guard Aaron Brooks, who had 16 points and a career-high 13 assists Tuesday.

"You have to limit his penetration - (Brooks is) so fast and so quick," Timberwolves assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff told the team's official Web site. "He does a great job getting into the paint."

Brooks averaged 20.0 points, 7.5 assists and 7.0 rebounds as Houston won both its visits to the Target Center last season.

While the Rockets go for their fourth straight victory in Minneapolis, the Timberwolves will seek to avoid their longest overall skid since a 13-game losing streak last Nov. 29-Dec. 23, a slide that included a 109-102 home loss to Houston.

Despite shooting 51 percent from the field in the first half, Minnesota dropped its 10th straight on Saturday - 97-87 at Memphis.

"The first half, we came out and we were running sets and playing pretty well," guard Corey Brewer said after leading the Timberwolves with 16 points. "In the third quarter, we had a letdown. That's how it's been going all season."

Brewer, averaging a career-high 12.0 points, missed all four meetings with Houston in 2008-09, due to a torn right ACL.

Jefferson did not play in the final two matchups against the Rockets last season because of the same injury. Jefferson, though, averaged 35.0 points and 17.5 rebounds in the first two games, matching a career high with 22 boards in a 107-90 loss in Houston on Feb. 7.

Jefferson returns to the Timberwolves' lineup Wednesday after missing the previous two contests due to the death of his grandmother.

"The better Al is, the better we play as a team," Bickerstaff said. "He's our anchor. He's our go-to guy. We just have to do what we've done in spurts for four quarters."

Minnesota's last win in this series was a 103-99 overtime victory at home Jan. 7, 2007.

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Added: November 18, 2009


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