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Game thread: Rockets vs. Timberwolves

The Rockets look to keep on winning while the opposition keeps on whining.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets are heading to Minnesota tonight for a nationally televised contest against the Timberwolves. The Rockets will be looking for their fifth straight win in a row overall and also the season sweep of the Wolves.

Houston has dominated the series with Minnesota thus far, winning each game by 18 points, and they come into tonight’s contest relatively healthy.

Ryan Anderson is back in the lineup and Nene should be playing this evening as well. They are still without Brandan Wright, but he’s barely seen the court since becoming a Rocket, so Houston isn’t out much there.

The Wolves will be playing without Jimmy Butler, and they’re one of eight teams currently within just a few games of each other in the conference hierarchy.

The Rockets, on the other hand, have a 2.5 game lead plus tiebreaker for the top seed out west and could extend that to 3 games over the idle Golden State Warriors with a win. We’re getting close to “done deal” time.

One thing to keep in mind as the Rockets continue to win and other teams and fanbases realize what they’re up against, is to expect a rise in irrational James Harden hate and Rockets hate overall. It’s already started in social media, and we’ve already seen Alvin Gentry and Doc Rivers fined for talking nonsense about the officials.

The biggest sign that you’ve arrived is when the coaches of potential playoff matchups start their postseason gamesmanship weeks before the playoffs actually start and when trolls from every creak and crevice of opposing bandwagon fanbases start having a conniption every time The Beard gets fouled.

I’ll have more to say on this topic later this week, but the short-short if it really is this: Reaching in on a shot always has been and always will be a foul at every level of basketball. That’s never changed.

Houston opponents are well aware not only of these rules, but also that Harden is better than just about anyone in the league at getting a defender to commit. Yet still the opposition reaches in over, and over, and over, and over. The league even adjusted the rules in the offseason to make it more difficult for guys like James to earn free throws on these long attempts. But these guys keep reaching in.

So just ignore the bluster, the trolling, and the Harden hate. The Rockets are rolling, and all that external noise comes with the territory. Just enjoy the ride.