The Wolves are back in the Twin Cities at the Target Center, following that two-game road trip. The first stop was L.A. to face the Clippers, who, Minnesota took down on a buzzer-beating game-winner by Kevin Love to win 101-98. The very next day the Wolves squared off against division rivals: Utah Jazz. They were able to stay close through 3.5 quarters, but in the final minutes of the game the TWolves offense went stagnant and the defense seemed disengaged, they ended up dropping that one 98-108, halting a three-game win streak.
The Timberwolves had the day off Sunday to recover. So, they should be ready for Kevin McHale's return to the Twin Cities--and, of course Adelman will be up against his former team. A lot of different story lines with these two teams and--the majority of them have nothing to do with the players!
Minnesota is sitting at 7-9 on the season, they've had their rough games, but, so far this season they have yet to lose a game by more than 11 points. In nine losses; they've dropped two by 11pts, two by 10pts, two by 4pts, one by 3pts & two by 2pts! Had they executed better in a few of those games those 2-4 point losses could've turned their record to 12-4, that would easily move them into the top ranks of the Western Conference. Their wins have been by some varying margins; they've won one game by each of these margins: 3pts, 7pts, 8pts, 10pts, 13pts & 21pts.
The Houston Rockets are currently 9-7 on the year. Looking at their scores, the majority of their losses have come by double-digit deficits. On the other hand--the majority of their losses have come by narrow margins. Also, they've already played in three overtimes this season--of which they're 2-1 this season.
A new coach, but ultimately the same roster from past season for Houston. The biggest changes? Instead of starting Chase Budinger at small forward, McHale has instead decided to go with rookie Chandler Parsons. Parsons is playing just 22.3mpg, but is averaging 6.9ppg, 5.5rpg and 1.1spg. The other big change? The Rockets' starting center. Chuck Hayes left via free agency, now playing for the Sacramento Kings. The Rockets signed Samuel Dalembert for their starting big man. Dalembert, of course--was the Kings' starting big man last season (essentially swapping Dalembert for Hayes). Dalembert is a great defensive presence in the post and may end Darko & Pek's hot streak they've had going in the post on offense.
Tonight is not only McHale's return to the Target Center, but also former TWolves point guard Jonny Flynn. Flynn has played just 5 games this season as he's had to compete for the reserve point guard spot with Goran Dragic. Brad Miller was the player traded for Flynn this past summer and there's a chance he could make his debut for the Wolves on Monday--against his former team.
Beyond Miller, Martell Webster could also play in his first game this season--he's back at practice and if he doesn't play Monday there's a good chance his first game will be this week sometime. Michael Beasley will miss his tenth consecutive game with a mid-foot sprain. J.J. didn't play at all in the weekend road trip as he stayed back in the Cities with a sore ankle, he's expected to return and will be a big boost for the Timberwolves backcourt off the bench.
Houston has a couple of guys labeled as day-to-day with some minor injuries. Courtney Lee is playing through a calf injury, he's coming off the bench averaging close to 10ppg. Jordan Hill is recovering from the flu. He played 8 minutes off the bench in their last game vs. the Spurs and will likely be available for Monday's matchup. Lastly, Dalembert is playing through an ankle injury, he played 33 minutes in the game vs. San Antonio scoring 12pts, grabbing 8 boards and had 6 blocked shots.
For the Rockets, Kyle Lowry has played VERY well this season averaging 16.5ppg, 6.6rpg, 8.6apg. The Rockets' best players include: Lowry, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola & Samuel Dalembert. Those core group of guys provide the majority of points. Their small forward is a bit of a revolving door--right now it's Chandler Parsons, but they've also had Terrence Williams & Chase Budinger starting at the three.
For Minnesota, they'll have at least 11 healthy players--potentially 13, which would be the most they've had this season--barring returns from J.J. Barea (likely) and Martell Webster & Brad Miller (questionable).
These two teams match up fairly well. I'd say the Rockets are ultimately stronger and every position excluding power forward and possibly small forward (all depending on which Wesley Johnson decides to show up!). However, with Minnesota's second unit headlined by Tolliver, Pekovic, Ellington, Barea & Williams--they seem to always be good for 20-35 points a game.
Ultimately, I see Minnesota defending the home court. Expect a TWolves victory. Rick Adelman & Brad Miller defeating their former team. Kevin McHale & Jonny Flynn to leave the Cities--once again--with a loss! Final score? Wolves: 94, Rockets: 86.
That's all for now. Tipoff is set for 7pmCT from the Target Center--a full gameday recap of that one can be found on this site following the final horn--as well as pictures, video & stats update Monday night. Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!