Tonight starts a four-game road trip for Houston, their longest remaining one of the season. They’ll play two more after that (one at home and one on the road) before taking some time off for the All-Star break. Houston has two games (tonight and Tuesday) before the trade deadline on Thursday, February 8.
As with Houston’s previous long road trips, the schedule is daunting. The Minnesota Timberwolves are tied for the lead in the Western Conference. Then comes the suddenly healthy Indiana Pacers. A trip to Toronto will likely be the only truly “winnable” game for the Rockets, and they’ll have to fly from Canada to Atlanta for the second of a back-to-back. Like I said, a rough stretch even with Toronto thrown in.
In the first matchup of these teams, Minnesota bullied Houston with size and athleticism. The Timberwolves led by as many as 33 and thoroughly outplayed Houston is every facet of the game. Alperen Sengun was as much of a nonfactor as he is likely to ever be at this point in his career (19 points and five boards) and Amen Thompson had a +/- of -20 in 20 minutes. Only one Rocket shot better than 50% from the floor (Aaron Holiday went 2-3).
That night, Houston “limited” Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns to 24 and 22 points, respectively. However, Jaden McDaniels, Rudy Gobert, Naz Reid, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker each finished with double digits to blow the Rockets away.
Houston is coming off a complete team win over the Toronto Raptors, so maybe that game created some juice for this team to go into Minnesota thinking they have a chance. With Gobert potentially out, the Rockets might be able to attack the basket a bit more, but the Wolves are the number one defense in the league for a reason, and it’s not just Gobert.
How to Watch
Space City Home Network
Tari Eason-OUT (leg)
Rudy Gobert-GTD (ankle)
The Line (as of this post)
Looking ahead because we can
Tuesday night in Indiana against the Pacers