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NBA: Rockets Struggle vs. Timberwolves, Love

It was Kevin Love’s night to shine and in more ways then one.

The young power forward was able to break a franchise record and seal a 112-108 victory over the Houston Rockets Tuesday night.

Love extended his double-double streak to a franchise record 38 consecutive games. His 20 points and14 rebounds moved him passed Kevin Garnett and into the Timberwolves record books. Love’s record-breaking night also included a clutch three pointer and free throw in the final minute to ice the game.

The loss snaps a three-game winning streak for the Rockets and puts them four games back of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

I felt Tuesday night’s game was one the Rockets had to have.  I felt like it was the type of game where a win would be important, but a loss would be devastating.  The type of loss that would shake the Rockets confidence because it is a team they should easily beat.

It doesn’t get much worse than letting a fourth quarter lead slip away from you in front of a home crowd. Kevin Martin and Courtney Lee both went for 23 points, but it wasn’t enough because the defense continued to struggle.

The best defensive effort for the Rockets came from Chuck Hayes.  The Chuck Wagon  did a great job of containing Love through the first three quarters of the game, but couldn’t contain the big man from scoring 11 points in the games final minutes.

I am not poking fun of Minnesota, but they are team that the Rockets should have defeated. The Timberwovles (13-39) are not the caliber of team that playoff teams lose against.  The only things that Minnesota has going for them is Kevin Love’s historic season and this summer’s NBA Draft.

The loss is especially disappointing because it seemed as though the Rockets were finally gaining some momentum.  The night before they were able defeat the Denver Nuggets despite Carmelo Anthony’s 50-point performance.

Houston has plenty of talent but is too inconsistent from one game to the next and I don’t think they have what it takes to make the playoffs.

Playoff teams are able to defend three-game winning streaks against a teams they have already beaten twice this season.  Playoff teams are able to defend their home court late in the season against a Minnesota squad that had a (3-23) road record.  And most importantly, playoff teams have to be able to win the ‘easy’ games when they matter most!

The Rockets were unable to accomplish any of these feats Tuesday night.

Things I Noticed

  • I thought the Rockets starters (especially Martin and Lowry) looked sluggish in the first half.  Both players played around forty minutes Monday night in Denver and they didn’t seem to be on their game in the early going.
  • Martin and Lowry started off slow, but I thought Adelman did a good job of managing their minutes in the opening half.  Adelman knew they wouldn’t have their legs early.  As a result, he limited Lowry to13 minutes and Martin to 11 minutes at half.  This allowed both players to play at a higher level in the second half.  Martin seemed to respond especially well to the added rest in the first half.  He seemed to have more energy as the game progressed and found his shooting stroke in the third quarter.
  • In the first half Courtney Lee had a chance to play a few extra minutes and man did he take advantage!  I thought Lee looked really sharp in the first half and did a good job of taking on the scoring responsibilities in the opening quarter.  Lee’s 15 points through half led both teams and I believe that it was his best first half in his short Rockets career.  Lee also played well in the second half but the Timberwolves seemed to key on him more and forced him into tougher baskets.
  • I hadn’t gotten a chance to see Kevin Love play this season (aside from Sportscenter highlights), but I was really impressed with his record-breaking performance.  I congratulate him on a truly incredible feat of 38 consecutive double-doubles.  He is very agile for a big man and extremely versatile.  He uses his size effectively in the low post, which allows him to establish great position (especially on rebounds). He isn’t a freak athlete but he has a non-stop motor and plays extremely smart.  Chuck Hayes did a solid job of containing him for three quarter but Love was able to make the big plays down the stretch.  He is a rare and unique talent that the Timberwolves should build around for years to come.


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