Tonight, the Rockets travel to Minnesota to take on a well rested, energetic Timberwolves team that has nothing to lose.
Meanwhile, as a team fighting for the third spot in the Western Conference and looking to extend their win streak to double digits, the Houston Rockets have quite a bit on the line tonight. They’re also coming into Minnesota after a game last night in Houston. The squad probably got more sleep than they did after their win in Golden State, but not by much.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Rockets are the hottest team in the league. They’ve won nine games in a row and are exceeding every expectation that was placed on them before the season started. Last night, the team set an NBA record for the most threes hit in a single game, shooting 24-61 from beyond the arc (39%). Houston has shot 39% or better from long range in five of their last six games.
Nearly everyone on the roster is playing better than expected, but James Harden has stepped up more than anyone. He’s in the top five in points per game and also leads the league in assists. It’s also noteworthy that he just passed Hakeem Olajuwon last night for the most triple-doubles ever amassed in a Rockets uniform.
As a team who has beaten both the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors on the road this season, every Rockets game from here on out is theirs to lose. One would think that would be especially true against a team with only seven wins so far, but the Timberwolves certainly won’t lie down like the Kings did.
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The Timberwolves were fully expected to make a leap this season after adding a respected new coach to their young-but-wow-they’re-good roster. However, they’ve lost more times now than every Western Conference team except the Dallas Mavericks.
Their most recent game was a dramatic comeback win over the Chicago Bulls, though. It wouldn’t be surprising if that gave them a confidence boost going into tonight.
Karl-Anthony Towns is one of the league’s most exciting young players. After winning Rookie of the Year last season, he’s averaging a split of 21.4/10.8. Clint Capela has anchored Houston’s defense honorably this year, but tonight could very well be his toughest assignment yet.
The Houston Rockets are clearly, unarguably, the better team of the two facing off tonight. But, the better team doesn’t always win. Plenty of the odds are in Minnesota’s favor, so the Beard and company will have to come to play.
Follow @SpaceCity_Scoop on Twitter for live updates during the game, and check back for a recap once the Rockets (hopefully) extend their win streak!