Houston Rockets vs. Minnesota Timberwolves game preview

Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Spor

The Rockets and Timberwolves go toe-to-toe tonight in Minnesota as Houston plays their last road game before the All-Star break.

Revisionist history is pretty relevant right now.

I went to Texas Tech, and on Saturday night there was an incident involving highly touted Oklahoma State sophomore Marcus Smart and a Tech fan. Smart fell down out-of-bounds, the Tech fan said something, then Smart got up and shoved the fan before being restrained by teammates.

Now, we're seeing spinning from both sides.

We will almost certainly never know what the fan said. In fact, we're already getting two sides to the story. The fan says he called Smart "a piece of crap." On the other side, Smart has said that a racial slur was used. In an attempt to be objective (admittedly difficult), I can still see that both sides are perpetuating stories to help their cause. Smart is looking for sympathy, while the fan is trying to not get in trouble for potentially being racist.

In the end, if Marcus Smart has other moments like this, we'll look back and say, "We should have known that he was a loose cannon. You should never touch a fan no matter what they say."

On the other hand, if Smart's image remains clean for the rest of his basketball career, we'll say, "That guy probably called him the N word. It's understandable that he got upset."

Revisionist history, folks.

For the Rockets, they won a game by 6 points to the worst team in the NBA. Rockets fans will say that the Bucks played one of their best games of the season. The talking heads at ESPN will say the Rockets showed that they aren't in a class with the better teams of the league.

So, if the Rockets start losing or finish the season disappointingly, we'll hear that the Rockets starting falling apart on February 8. If the Rockets keep winning, people will agree with Rockets fans and say that Milwaukee probably played really well and might have knocked another team off on February 8.

At the end of the day, does it really matter?

Just Win, Baby ! (via boxingjerapah)

Tip off is at 7pm CST on NBA TV.

Matchups:

Point Guard: Patrick Beverley vs. Ricky Rubio

Rubio has actually increased his three-point shooting to 35% this season, which would be the highest of his three year career. He's still not willing to take many jump shots. In previous games against the Rockets, he has gotten to the line several times, so that's something to watch out for.

Also, this video (VERY NSFW; it's one of my favorite Ludacris songs, but it's pretty bad):

Timbertrolls 2014, The Year of the Wolf! (via Marcos López)

Advantage: Even

Shooting Guard: James Harden vs. Chase Budinger

Kevin Martin is out indefinitely so we'll get someone else here tonight.

I know he's a small forward, but Budinger and Brewer will both play the wing so it was a matter of just putting each one into a position.

WAIT, CHASE BUDINGER IS HEALTHY AGAIN?

After missing the last 12 seasons (as always, numbers approximate) with various injuries ranging from paper cuts to impalements and amputations (injuries also approximate), Budinger is finally ready to play not get injured have a good time stay away from shiny objects put on a jersey. I miss Bud's shooting, but I don't miss the Air Bud references from Bill and Bull.

Oh, who am I kidding of course I miss it! Seriously, I'm glad Bud's back and I hope he stays healthy for an extended period of time.

Last season, the Rockets played 2 games in Minnesota and played poorly in both games. The second game was an absolute dud where no one played well and the team just looked lost. The Rockets limped into the game with 6 straight losses and even though Love and Pekovic were injured, the Rockets shot 32% and only scored 79 points.

But I want to talk about the first trip to Minnesota last year. It was December 26 and the Rockets were coming off a huge Christmas Day victory over the Chicago Bulls in Chicago. Houston headed into Minny on a back-to-back and played like a young team normally does on a back-to-back. They couldn't shoot anything and their defense was ripped apart whenever Minny attempted to drive and dish. The largest crowd in Target Center history got louder and louder. It got so bad that McHale pulled Harden in the third quarter and basically begged the Wolves to pull away so he could pull everyone else.

Then the fourth quarter started with the Rockets down 5. And then this happened.

James Harden 17-point 4th quarter to beat Timberwolves (via clutchfansDOTnet)

And yeah, McHale didn't foul up three here either. But it was the right move, because they missed right? /Spin Doctor

Advantage: Rockets

Small Forward: Chandler Parsons vs. Corey Brewer

Brewer is shooting 52% in his last 10 contests and scored 22 in the first matchup this season against the Rockets. He's not as versatile as Parsons on offense, but he can still do a bit of everything and is a better defender.

Parsons has been alternating good games and bad games in his last 5. He played poorly against the Bucks, so this should be a good one, if the trend holds.

Advantage: Rockets

Power Forward: Terrence Jones vs. Kevin Love/Dante Cunningham

Love missed the T-Wolves last game with a quad contusion, so he might be out. But most players love to come back against the Rockets, so I'll put him here. I'm a fan so I hope he's healthy.

If Love can't go, Dante Cunningham will start.

Jones had one of his worst games as a Rocket against the Bucks, finishing with 2/5 in 23 minutes. He'd been playing well before that, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Advantage: Timberwolves if Love starts, Rockets if he doesn't

Center: Dwight Howard vs. Ronny Turiaf

Nikola Pekovic just got out of a walking boot and is expected to miss Minny's last two games before the All-Star break. That's a nice turn of events for Dwight Howard as he goes from the monstrous Pekovic to the undersized Turiaf.

Howard should feast tonight, though his rebounding numbers may be limited to Love's activity.

Advantage: Rockets

Bench

Rockets: Jeremy Lin, Omri Casspi, Omer Asik, Donatas Motiejunas

Wolves: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Robbie Hummel, Shabazz Muhammad, Gorgui Dieng, J.J. Barea, Alexey Shved

Advantage: Wolves because those are the best names in the NBA

Prediction: Rockets win 108-101.

Rockets vs Timberwolves coverage

Canis Hoopus

Sohum's Prediction Game

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