As Yogi Berra once said, it’s like deja vu all over again.
Less than a month ago, the Rockets travelled to Minnesota on a back-to-back looking for their tenth win in a row. Once again, that’s the story heading into this meeting.
That game was bonkers. The Rockets led early, then gave away a huge second quarter and trailed by 13 heading to the fourth. Down 12 with just over 2 minutes to play, the Rockets closed on a 14-2 run to force overtime. The Beard took over in OT, scoring 9 of Houston’s 16 points and assisting on the only other made field goal in the extra period (an Eric Gordon triple).
That game was also the last game that Clint Capela has suited up for Houston. The Rockets are 10-2 since his fibula fracture, but his absence has been noticeable. It bears mentioning that Karl-Anthony Towns dropped 41 points and 16 rebounds in that game and will be licking his chops to get another crack at Houston’s frontcourt. Last year’s Rookie of the Year is a tough guard for anyone, but neither Montrezl Harrell or Nene did much to slow down KAT.
Some other notables from that game were Houston shooting just 41% from the field and 33% from deep. They were outrebounded 55-47. It’s rare to win games with those statistics, but Houston played just enough defense that night in the fourth quarter to make it happen. I feel like I’ve said it about every game, but if Houston plays even an average game (for them), then it’s going to take a great performance from the opponent to hand the Rockets a loss.
Eric Gordon didn’t make the trip with the team so he’ll be out, though MDA has said he should be back for Friday’s tilt against the Grizzlies. For the Timberwolves, Zach LaVine is day-to-day with a hip contusion he suffered on Monday.
The end of tonight’s game marks the midway point in Houston’s season. They’ll be 41 games in and projected wins becomes super easy because you can multiply their current wins by 2. So, the Rockets will either be on pace for 62 or 64 wins after tonight. I’m still on record saying Houston won’t hit 60 wins, but the fact that we’re talking about this as a possibility is remarkable. Who would have thought that the dysfunctional team of last year, with all the crap that happened behind the scenes, would be in this position. Life almost exclusively hands out lemons, but if you’re a Rockets fan life has been giving out the sweet nectar of lemonade since December.
Tip-off is at 7pm CT.