By: Dan Slaubaugh
The Wolves welcome the Houston Rockets to Target Center tonight as they try to extend their home winning streak to 14. This will be the second meeting between the two teams this season, with Houston taking the first matchup 116-98 at home on Jan. 18. The teams meet three more times by March 18.
Sizzling hot and on an eight-game winning streak, James Harden and Chris Paul have the Rockets to the 2nd-best record in the NBA at 42-13. They're shooting an NBA-leading 42.6 three-pointers per game, converting an NBA-best 15.6. The next highest is Brooklyn at 34.7, converting 12.1 threes per game. convert The Wolves have mightily struggled against efficient three-point shooting teams this season, so tonight could get ugly if Houston clicks from the get-go.
What: Wolves - Rockets
When: 7:10 PM CT
Where: Target Center. Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Where to watch: Fox Sports North
Where to listen: 830 WCCO
What to watch for:
Will Target Center hold down the Red Hot Rockets? Since these last teams met, the Wolves are 6-6, but that includes 5-0 at home. In fact, Minnesota hasn't lost at home since December 16. At 23-6, Minnesota has the best home record in the West and have won 13 straight in the confines of Target Center. No matter how good Houston may be, the Wolves dominance at home presents for a tough challenge on the road.
Can the defense step up? The Wolves stand absolutely no chance tonight if the defense that's showed up the last 30 days shows up tonight. Over the last 15 games, Minnesota ranks 28th in defensive rating at an abysmal 112.5. That is around the same time Jeff Teague returned from his injury, which really isn't a coincidence at all. The Rockets have the NBA's second-best offense, just behind Golden State, and pose unsolvable problems for a defense. Whether Minnesota can step up to the challenge tonight will be the deciding factor in the game's outcome.
Butler vs. Beard: The two will lace 'em up for Team Stephen in Sunday night's NBA All-Star game, but first, they have work to do. Houston sits just one game back of Golden State from the 1-seed, while Minnesota sits 0.5 games back from San Antonio for the 3-seed and two games ahead of Oklahoma City for the 5-seed. This game has major implements for both teams, so expect Butler and Harden to bring their A-game in front of what should be a sold-out Target Center crowd.
Minnesota: PG Jeff Teague, SG Andrew Wiggins, SF Jimmy Butler, PF Taj Gibson, C Karl-Anthony Towns
Houston: PG Chris Paul, SG James Harden, SF P.J. Tucker, Luc Mbah a Moute, Clint Capela
Houston drains 18 three-pointers, defeat Wolves 114-105. So long, winning streak.
Thanks for reading enjoy the game. Go Wolves.