Houston at Minnesota

Yao makes sure Rockets don't blow another lead vs. T-Wolves

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Without "Big Al" in the middle of their lineup, the Minnesota Timberwolves simply are not measuring up these days, especially when Yao Ming and the Houston Rockets come to town.

One night after blowing a 17-point lead in the final six minutes, Yao towered over the Timberwolves with 17 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks in Houston's 105-94 victory over Minnesota on Sunday.

"I walked past him and I'm at his waist," said Randy Foye, Minnesota's 6-feet-4 shooting guard. "He's a huge human being. It's tough to go in there and get shots over him."

Ron Artest scored 23 points and Aaron Brooks had 22 points and a career-high 10 assists for the Rockets, who had lost four in a row, and five of their last six, on the road.

"You've got to learn from last night and you've got to come out and be resilient and turn it back around," Rockets coach Rick Adelman said. "This is a really big game for us. Finally got a road win, stopped the road losing streak. Now, maybe we can build off that."

Foye scored 24 points and Craig Smith had 20 for the Timberwolves, who lost their sixth game in a row and fell to 1-8 since star center Al Jefferson went down for the season with a torn ACL.

The loss of Jefferson, who averaged 35 points and 17.5 rebounds in two meetings against Houston earlier this season, has forced the Wolves to play rookie Kevin Love out of position at center.

Love gave up more than eight inches and 60 pounds to the 7-feet-6, 310-pound Yao on the low block, and it was every bit the mismatch it looked like on paper.

On offense, Yao pushed and shoved Love all over the paint until he got into position for easy hook shots and layups. On defense, Yao swatted away three shots by Love and challenged countless others, even delivering an inadvertant elbow that got the rookie's eyes watering in the third period.

"I think they used me well," Yao said. "Not just saying passing me the ball, but my teammates really used me well. They used me, the double team, to get open looks for the rest of the team."

When Tracy McGrady elected to have microfracture knee surgery to end his season, Artest moved into his starting spot, giving the Rockets a 6-7, 260-pound shooting guard in a pass-rushing defensive end's body.

Artest had 32 points against the Bulls on Saturday night, but Chicago outscored the Rockets 23-3 in the final 5:51 for a stunning 105-102 victory.

Luis Scola had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Adelman left his starters in long after the game was decided to blow out a struggling team that has looked lost without its leader.

"I was always thinking about last night," Yao said. "That's like a nightmare."

Welcome to the Timberwolves' world.

Minnesota has increased its scoring without Jefferson, but at the expense of its defense. Coach Kevin McHale has lamented the soaring shooting percentages from opposing offenses, the result of too many wide open jump shots and easy layups.

It was more of the same on Sunday evening, when the Rockets opened the game a perfect 7-for-7 and made 12 of their first 14 shots. Artest capped that start with a soft jumper for a 25-15 lead in the first quarter. Houston shot 53 percent for the game.

The deciding run came in the third period, when Houston outscored Minnesota 17-0 over a six-minute stretch and never looked back.

"What these guys are learning is the NBA is a very, very tough league," McHale said. "And teams don't feel sorry for you. And teams don't take it easy on you. ... That's a tough lesson. But they'll be better for it."

Notes

  • Wolves PG Sebastian Telfair sat out with a sore right groin. He is listed as day to day.
  • It was Brooks' second career double-double. Both have come against the Wolves.
  • Carl Landry had 12 points off the bench for Houston.
  • After a day of negotiating with free agent WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf and vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman watched the game from courtside seats.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
 
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The short-handed, undersized Timberwolves have no answer for the 7-feet-6 Yao Ming.  (Getty Images)
The short-handed, undersized Timberwolves have no answer for the 7-feet-6 Yao Ming. (Getty Images)

Scoreboard
Houston (38-22) «29252922105
Minnesota (18-41) 2330162594
HOU:R. Artest 23 Pts
HOU:L. Scola 11 Reb
HOU:A. Brooks 10 Ast
MIN:R. Foye 24 Pts
MIN:M. Miller 6 Reb
MIN:M. Miller 5 Ast
Players of the Game
MinnesotaHouston

R. Foye

A. Brooks
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
243422410
Houston
R. Artest, SF3810-150-042123
A. Brooks, PG388-175-7410222
L. Scola, PF356-123-4114215
Y. Ming, C355-77-7110417
S. Battier, SF342-60-04225
C. Landry, PF264-54-430112
K. Lowry, SG255-100-013211
V. Wafer, SG90-30-00100
D. Mutombo, CDid Not Play
B. Barry, SGDid Not Play
T. McGrady, SGDid Not Play
B. Cook, PFDid Not Play
L. Head, PGDid Not Play
C. Hayes, PFDid Not Play
J. Dorsey, PFDid Not Play
Totals 40-7519-22382214105
 53.3%86.4% 
Minnesota
R. Foye, PG369-172-234324
R. Gomes, PF295-90-032211
K. Love, PF234-121-23119
K. Ollie, PG172-40-02314
J. Collins, C172-40-02044
M. Miller, SF323-50-06517
R. Carney, SF234-100-051110
C. Smith, PF239-112-660420
B. Brown, PG212-90-00405
B. Cardinal, PF190-20-04250
M. Madsen, PF10-00-00000
A. Jefferson, PFDid Not Play
S. Telfair, PGDid Not Play
S. Williams, PFDid Not Play
C. Brewer, SFDid Not Play
Totals 40-835-1034222294
 48.2%50.0% 
Other Games
Det 105 Final
Bos 95
LAL 111 Final
Pho 118
NO 99 Final
NJ 96
Den 94 Final
Ind 100
Cle 88 Final
Atl 87
SA 84 Final
Port 102
Tor 98 Final
Dal 109
Utah 112 Final
GS 104