Final / OT

Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 3)

Series starts 11/11

Game 1: Thursday, November 11th
Game 2: Friday, February 4th
Game 3: Sunday, March 20th

Rockets 119

(27-21, 13-11 away)

Timberwolves 113

(24-23, 13-11 home)

Coverage: KSTC

8:30 PM ET, February 4, 2005

Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

1 2 3 4 OT T
HOU 26 28 29 21 15119
MIN 33 25 21 25 9113

Top Performers

Hou: T. McGrady 40 Pts, 13 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl

Min: K. Garnett 22 Pts, 14 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

McGrady' hits key 3 in OT; Yao adds 23 and 14

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Tracy McGrady and the Houston Rockets are functioning quite well together, a concept the Minnesota Timberwolves are desperately trying to relearn.

McGrady had 40 points, 13 rebounds and a clutch 3-pointer in overtime to lead the Rockets to a 119-113 victory over the Timberwolves on Friday night.

"We've got guys that are sacrificing," said McGrady, who scored nine points in the extra period. "That's what it's going to take to be a good team -- guys sacrificing what they sometimes do best."

Yao Ming added 23 points and 14 rebounds, and Juwan Howard had 13 points and 14 rebounds for Houston -- which took a 112-107 lead with 2:05 left in overtime on McGrady's fourth 3-pointer. The Rockets went 9-for-14 from 3-point range.

"Our defense has slipped a little bit," Bob Sura said, "but we've made up for it on the other end."

Minnesota's Sam Cassell had 24 points and 11 assists, but missed a potential game-winner at the end of the fourth quarter.

Kevin Garnett had 22 points and 14 rebounds, Trenton Hassell scored a season-high 19 points and Wally Szczerbiak added 18 points for Minnesota -- which lost its fourth straight and was outrebounded for the ninth consecutive time.

"When you look at our previous three performances, we made strides," coach Flip Saunders said. "But not enough strides."

The Wolves, who missed their first six shots from the field in the extra period, cut it to 115-113 on a driving layup by Cassell with 13.5 seconds left. But McGrady made four free throws in the closing seconds.

"McGrady just had an unbelievable night," said Minnesota's Fred Hoiberg. "Trenton did as good a job as he can possibly do, and he still scored 40."

This was an important game for playoff positioning, because the Rockets (27-21) and Timberwolves (24-23) entered as the seventh- and ninth-place teams in the loaded Western Conference.

Houston finished a four-game road trip at 3-1 and has won six of seven away from home. Time is starting to run out for Minnesota, which advanced to the conference finals last season.

"The six-seven-eight spots are really tight," McGrady said. "Who knows if it's going to come down to a tiebreaker? They beat us at home, so now we're one-one. This was a crucial game for us."

Sura and Cassell, once teammates at Florida State, each missed long field goals with less than 2 minutes to go in regulation. Sura's next attempt was off again, but Cassell sank a vintage 17-footer over David Wesley that gave the Wolves a 104-102 lead with 27 seconds remaining.

McGrady answered with a smooth jumper that retied the game with 12.8 seconds left, and Cassell -- repeating the same shot -- came up short this time.

After a 29-point loss to Phoenix at home on Wednesday night, the Timberwolves skipped practice -- per usual routine following back-to-back games. They went together across the street to an arcade for some bowling, rejuvenation and rekindling of their camaraderie.

Minnesota built a 33-26 lead after one period and was in front for most of the first half -- playing with more energy than earlier in the week.

Third quarters haven't been kind to the Wolves, who were significantly outscored (31-17 by Sacramento, 23-11 by Milwaukee and 35-15 by Phoenix) during the period while losing their past three games.

And this one was no different, with the Rockets outscoring them 29-21 en route to a 83-79 lead.

Yao, who fumbled with the ball often and looked out of his element in the first half, got it going after halftime and scored seven points in the third.

Houston went 9-for-12 from the foul line, and Minnesota never even made it there. The Rockets grabbed seven offensive rebounds, and the Wolves got one.

"Rebounding is effort," Garnett said. "It's saying, 'I want this,' and then being in position to do it. You've got to go get them. They just don't come to you."

Game notes

After losing his shoe on the offensive end early in the third quarter, Garnett picked up the stray sneaker and carried it in one hand as he jogged back to play defense. Howard playfully swiped at it, and Garnett wound up holding his opponent in a bear hug to get a foul called and the clock stopped. ... Saunders used his 12th different starting lineup combination this season and the third in as many games -- Garnett, Cassell, Hassell, Latrell Sprewell and Michael Olowokandi. Olowokandi fouled out in 9 scoreless minutes. ... Houston is 14-6 since acquiring Wesley from New Orleans.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 119 113
FGM-FGA 42-95 (.442) 42-88 (.477)
3PM-3PA 9-14 (.643) 4-15 (.267)
FTM-FTA 26-33 (.788) 25-30 (.833)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 19-55 9-40
Assists 27 32
Turnovers 7 5
Steals 3 3
Blocks 2 4
Fast Break Points 2 14
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 23 (1/0) 27 (0/0)
Largest Lead 7 8

Top Performers

Tracy McGrady McGrady
Points: 40
Reb: 13
Ast: 4
Stl: 1
Blk: 0
Kevin Garnett Garnett
Points: 22
Reb: 14
Ast: 5
Stl: 1
Blk: 2