With both of their teams coming off sluggish losses, Casey and Van Gundy each hope for more out of their players when the Wolves host the Rockets.
Minnesota fell to 0-3 on the road with a 102-91 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday. The Wolves were outrebounded for the fourth time in six games as the Nuggets held a 54-30 advantage on the boards.
The deficit was the largest for Minnesota since Portland recorded a 50-22 margin on April 25, 1999. The Wolves are averaging 37.3 rebounds per game and giving up 44.7.
“I thought we participated instead of competing,” Casey said. “The game was on the schedule and we just showed up.”
Wally Szczerbiak had 20 points, Kevin Garnett added 19 points and nine rebounds, and rookie Rashad McCants contributed a career-high 14 points off the bench before being ejected for slamming the ball and taunting Nuggets center Marcus Camby.
“We obviously have some work to do,” Szczerbiak said. “We just have to start giving a better effort.”
Minnesota will be looking to improve its perimeter defense, which allowed the Nuggets to shoot 58 percent from 3-point range and 48 percent overall. The Wolves have been a better defensive team at home, holding opponents to 79.3 points per game at the Target Center.
The Rockets are looking to rebound from their worst offensive performance and worst loss of the season, 102-82 to the Boston Celtics on Sunday.
“They were much more assertive, aggressive on the boards, on every loose ball, they were just playing harder than we were,” Van Gundy said.
McGrady played his second straight game since returning from a back injury that sidelined him for three contests. The Rockets lost all three of those games, but the five-time All-Star led Houston to a win over New Jersey on Saturday.
STANDINGS (through Nov. 14): Rockets - 5th place, 2 1/2 GB, Southwest Division. Timberwolves - 1st place (tied), Northwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Rockets - McGrady, 24 ppg; Yao, 9 rpg; Alston, 4.5 apg. Timberwolves - Garnett, 20.7 ppg, 10.7 rpg and 5.7 apg.
2004-05 SEASON SERIES: Timberwolves, 2-1.
LAST MEETING: March 20; Timberwolves, 94-86. At Minneapolis, Garnett scored 30 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, and Szczerbiak added 20 points for the Wolves.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rockets - 1-2 on the road; Timberwolves - 3-0 at home.