Final

Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 12/20

Game 1: Saturday, December 20th
Rockets109Final
Timberwolves102
Game 2: Saturday, February 7th
Timberwolves90Final
Rockets107
Game 3: Sunday, March 1st
Rockets105Final
Timberwolves94
Game 4: Friday, March 20th
Timberwolves88Final
Rockets107

Rockets 105

(38-22, 14-16 away)

Timberwolves 94

(18-41, 8-22 home)

    Coverage: FSN

    7:00 PM ET, March 1, 2009

    Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

    1 2 3 4 T
    HOU 29 25 29 22105
    MIN 23 30 16 2594

    Top Performers

    Houston: A. Brooks 22 Pts, 4 Reb, 10 Ast, 2 Stl

    Minnesota: R. Foye 24 Pts, 3 Reb, 4 Ast, 2 Stl

    Yao has 17 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks in Houston's victory

    Associated Press

    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.

    Fast Facts

    • Houston won for the seventh time in its last eight games.

    • Ron Artest finished with a team-high 23 points, Yao Ming had 17 points and 11 rebounds and Aaron Brooks had 22 points and a career-high 10 assists to lead the Rockets.

    • Since the injury to Tracy McGrady, Houston is 6-1.

    • Minnesota is 1-8 without Al Jefferson.

    -- ESPN research

    "I walked past him and I'm at his waist," said Randy Foye, Minnesota's 6-foot-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-foot-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 pass 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."

    Game 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 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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    Team Stat Comparison

     
    HOU
    MIN
    Points 105 94
    FGM-FGA 40-75 (.533) 40-83 (.482)
    3PM-3PA 6-17 (.353) 9-19 (.474)
    FTM-FTA 19-22 (.864) 5-10 (.500)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 7-38 12-34
    Assists 22 22
    Turnovers 12 13
    Steals 6 4
    Blocks 9 4
    Fast Break Points 10 9
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 14 (0/0) 22 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 20 4

    Top Performers

    Houston
    Minnesota
    Aaron Brooks Brooks
    Points: 22
    Reb: 4
    Ast: 10
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0
    Randy Foye Foye
    Points: 24
    Reb: 3
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0