Game 31 Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Houston Rockets

I think it riled us up and it got everybody into the game even more. We were all intensely into the game but I think that play definitely was a sparkplug and we need to play like that at all times.

I think we were playing better before that. It kind of fired us up a little bit but it was just one play. I'm more angry about the foul that they didn't call before. I thought it was a clear foul. I just don't know what happened.

When the play happened with Scola and Love, we got fired up and used that.

It got us to play the way we have to play all the time. We can't be a pretty team, we can't be a team that just goes out there and plays easy; we've got to be a team that's going to go out there and fight like we did when we got mad.

These are quotes from Kyle Lowry, Luis Scola, Chandler Parsons, and Kevin McHale (who said he didn't see the play then went on to say that it helped the team, which I find hilarious).

Since that incident, the T-Wolves are 2-4 and the Rockets are 4-2.

I just wanted to get the foot stomp stuff out of the way, because it's there and it needs to be mentioned. It was bad. Really bad. And I know there were a lot of people here who really liked Kevin Love before that game, and don't like him as much now. But you won't hear me say too much more about it specifically, since I'm sure Bill and Clyde will mention it at least 10 times tonight. Before the tip (7pm CST) , that is.

And I want to agree with Dave over at Clutchfans, who tweeted this after that game:

I'll say this much: Adelman-McHale. Rubio-Lowry. Love-Scola. Rockets top rivalry is now Minnesota.

I still hate Utah (we'll get to them Sunday), but Clutch is right. For the players at least, this is it. There's bad blood between Adelman and the Rockets' front office. There's bad blood between McHale and the Minny front office. Lowry and Rubio are dueling young point guards with bright futures. And lastly, Pekovic and Dalembert are from out of the country. There's no more intrigue possible. It's that big right now.

Oh, and if you go to Canis Hoopus (which you should because they're awesome), don't start a fight over something like this. Please be mature and respectful. They didn't step on your face, so there's nothing you should feel personally upset about. Scola got over it, and so should we. After the win tonight, that is.

Which leads me to a poll question, and the subsequent jump.

Matchups:

PG: Kyle Lowry vs. Ricky Rubio:

I'm looking forward to Love-Scola IV. Don't get me wrong.

But I'm going to enjoy Rubio-Lowry for a long time to come. Two different point guards with different styles who both have tons of potential and a superstar ceiling.

Rubio can still work on his jump shot. Lowry needs to be more consistent. But I'm going to have a lot of fun watching these guys, and it's sad that tonight is the last time they will face off, barring a meeting in the playoffs.

Advantage: Even

SG: Kevin Martin vs. Luke Ridnour:

Last time out Ridnour started hot and it kind of shocked the Rockets. On this Minnesota team you think of all the players and shooters they have, and the last guy you expect to kill you is Luke Ridnour. But then again, Ridnour was being guarded by K-Mart, so there might be something there.

As for K-Mart, he was the anti-Ridnour in that game. He went 1-10, got to the line zero times, and seemed passive in the second half (which makes sense, since he couldn't hit anything). That was the start of the road trip from hell for Martin, outside of a couple of flashes here and there.

Getting back to free throws, when you look at the last matchup between the two teams, you notice that Minny didn't shoot much better than the Rockets. Their three pointers weren't really falling. They turned the ball over 16 times and only forced 10 Rockets turnovers. They outrebounded the Rockets but when one team takes 9 more shots than the other, you expect there to be a rebound discrepancy, so that wasn't too bad. Same number of points in the paint, too. So where was the discrepancy?

Ah, free throws. The Wolves took nine more free throws than the Rockets. They made nine more. They won by nine, too. Oh, and the Rockets had two technical fouls, coming off the "incident." Going to be interesting to see how the fouls are doled out tonight.

Oh, and don't take that to mean that the refs were biased or anything. Minny got to the line more than we did and they won. If we get to the line more tonight, we've got a good chance. That's the point I'm trying to make.

Advantage: Rockets

SF: Chandler Parsons vs. Wesley Johnson:

At 6-7, 215 lbs, Johnson is more of a guard than a forward. Maybe a swingman, but he's really more of a guard I think. When the Rockets won in Minny a large part of that had to do with McHale being able to run three or four guards on the floor at a time. When the Rockets returned there, Adelman did the same thing by putting three guards in and letting Pekovic and Love clog the lane. When that happens, it's the team that shoots better that usually wins, since you're basically forsaking offensive rebounds and trying to spread the floor.

Adelman has no problem throwing Rubio, Barea, and Ridnour at the same time, especially if he can get away with it. That's a group that can run and still use Love or Pek in the post if need be. So though this game may devolve into a game of smalls and bigs, it's the mediums who are the real X-factors. If Parsons and Bud can hold their own keep Minny from going small, it would be a huge boost for the Rockets.

Advantage: Even

PF: Luis Scola vs. Kevin Love:

To ease the tension, I am posting this from the Onion Sports Dome, which is hilarious and worth three minutes.

kwame brown lottery (via basketbawful)

Advantage: Even-Yeah, I know.

C: Samuel Dalembert vs. Nikola Pekovic:

In his last 9 games, Pekovic is averaging 17/11. He's also shooting 61% in that span.

So though I've been pleased with Dalembert over the last few games, he's not at the same level as Pekovic right now. Pek is a load, and Dalembert is probably the only big we have who can stay with him. It's imperative that he doesn't pick up quick fouls. Meanwhile, the Rockets will need to be in attack mode from the start.

I don't often like to talk about fouls being important, but tonight they are paramount.

Advantage: T-Wolves

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Bench/Role Players:

T-Wolves: Michael Beasley, J.J. Barea, Wayne Ellington, Derrick Williams, Martell Webster, Anthony Randolph, Anthony Tolliver

Rockets: Goran Dragic, Chase Budinger, Patrick Patterson, Jordan Hill, Courtney Lee

Advantage: Even

Injuries/Inactives:

T-Wolves: Darko Milicic day-to-day

Rockets: None

Prediction: Rockets 111-94

Make sure you get in on TCWHRO (we have to figure out another way to say that)'s fantasy basketball game. Details here. Just make your predictions in the comments, and maybe explain how you came to that conclusion so we have something to talk about.

Timberwolves vs Rockets coverage

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