OK, let's try this again. The last time these two teams hooked up in Houston, Corey Brewer went Teresa Witherspoon on us (start at 6:45 mark) and threw up a prayer that was answered. Three overtimes later, the Rockets were victorious, but fatigued. I actually met Jack Sikma the very next day, and he looked and sounded exhausted.
Anyways, the Timberwolves will be without Al Jefferson. Though they still have Kevin Love, Al Jefferson is so detrimental to the Rockets that I have placed him on the list of "Players Who Turn into Superstars when they Play the Rockets." Let me explain.
This is a list completely different from Rocket Killers. A Rocket killer would be someone like Andrei Kirisucko and his flopping abilities, or Brandon Roy being physically unable to miss a shot in the fourth quarter against the Rockets. The guys I'm talking about turn from horrible into great or from good into "Holy shit, Popeye Jones might be the greatest player in NBA history!" Al Jefferson and Jason Terry headline this list, while Brad Miller is another (all links lead to Yahoo's player pages with breakdowns of that player vs. every team in the NBA). They all double as Rockets killers, too.
The T-Wolves lost 112-109 to the Mavericks on Wednesday night, so they're as rested as the Rockets. Despite outshooting (53%-50%) and outrebounding (49-30) the Mavs, they committed 20 turnovers. Though they did injure Jason Terry, so there's that.
Aaron Brooks vs.
I liked Jonny Flynn, and I felt bad for him when the T-Wolves drafted him after Rubio. He reminds me a little of AB, but with worse shooting skills. Still, he's a rookie and he's got a bright future in this league.
Oddly enough, he's the opposite of a Rockets Killer. He's played atrociously against the Rockets this season, and that probably has to do with AB having as much if not more speed than him.
The last time Brooks played the T-Wolves was the night before his 25th birthday, and he scored 43 in that thriller. I expect him to light it up again, though he had better hit his free throws this time.
Kevin Martin vs. Corey Brewer
Another college player I liked out of Florida, Brewer has failed to do what Carl Landry did this season with the Rockets, which is maintain efficiency with extra playing time. His points, assists, and rebounding are up this season, but his turnovers are up and his free throw and three-point percentages are down.
Brewer was touted as a potential lock-down defender in the NBA when he was drafted, but I haven't really seen that out of him. Martin should still be able to draw fouls on him and make him look silly at times.
Shane Battier vs. Ryan Gomes
Gomes was a throw-in involved in the KG-to-Boston-for-17-Celtics trade has actually been a solid contributor to the Wolves since the trade. For one thing, he's only missed six games in his 2+ seasons there, and those have come this season. His scoring is down, but in general Gomes is quite the consistent athlete whom the T-Wolves can rely on.
Shane's intensity has picked up recently. Seven blocks against the Kings jumps out, but it seems that since the trade, he knows that the team needs him to do some of the little things Landry did. Usually content to talk particle physics in the corner behind the three-point line, he's suddenly showing us glimpses of his Duke days with his aggressiveness. When he forced the three-point play vs. the Kings, I thought, "Now there's the Shane I used to hate." High praise, I assure you.
Luis Scola vs. Ryan Hollins
We'll see plenty of Kevin Love at the power forward, too, with Hollins sliding down to the center spot. I'm not sure how the Rockets will defend Love, but I expect Hayes, Scola, and Jeffries will each have their shot. We know Kevin Love isn't bad, and the Rockets will have their hands full. As for Hollins, he's nothing to write home about, but he's a tree that will alter shots. He is also a former Mav, so I must hate him.
Like Xiane said, Scola was really the only Rocket to show up against the Kings on offense, and it seems that he's taking this poor team play harder than anybody else. This is why we love him, and I wish the rest of the team could feed off his energy.
Edge: Rockets, easily
Hayes vs. Darko Milicic
Poor Darko. He has his own website, and yet will always be remembered as the top 5 pick in the 2003 draft who wasn't LeBron, Carmelo, D-Wade, or Chris Bosh. He'll be returning to Europe at the end of the season, according to the Associated Press, thus cementing the bust status. His career has been more depressing than Shaun Livingston's, and that's really saying something. If he's successful in Europe, his life would make for a fascinating documentary. For those who think Jared Jeffries is overpaid (he is), remember that Darko is making $7.5 million this season. I'm pretty sure he's feeling okay.
T-Wolves: As I mentioned before, Love will come off the bench. He's averaging 15 points and 11 rebounds per game. Damien Wilkins, Ramon Sessions, along with Aleksandar Pavlovic and Oleksiy Pecherov. For those annoyed by how we sometimes stereotype David Andersen here as a typical Australian, I assure you it would be much worse with a pair of Eastern Europeans on the team.
Rockets: I can't predict Adelman and his bench decisions, so I won't even try. Right now, I understand. With all the new pieces, it's like trying to solve a rubix cube when you're colorblind.
Edge: Even, I guess?
Kings: Jefferson (suspension-DWI)
Rockets: Yao, Lowry, Ariza-Lowry and Ariza aren't expected back until next week at the very earliest.
Prediction: There's no reason the Rockets shouldn't win this thing, but I said that last time and look what happened.
Finally, if there's anything you want me to add to the previews just leave a comment, and if it's possible, I will try to make it a regular part of the preview. Thanks for reading.