The Houston Rockets were frustrated in the opener of their three-game road trip. They’ll look to get back on track against a team they’ve struggled against when they visit the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday.
The Rockets lost 90-84 to Minnesota on Wednesday as the Timberwolves shut down Houston stars Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. Constantly double-teaming Yao and hounding McGrady on the perimeter, Minnesota held the Rockets (12-6) to a season-low 34.8 percent from the field.
“It was one of those nights, man,” McGrady said. “We definitely don’t have very many like that.”
McGrady scored 14 points on 5-for-21 shooting, although he added 10 rebounds and seven assists. Yao finished with 14 as well, shooting 5-of-19 from the field.
It was the lowest shooting percentage and point total of the season for the 7-foot-6 center, who was averaging 25.7 points coming in.
For McGrady, it was another inconsistent performance. He had 31 points the previous night in a win over Golden State, but that followed games of seven, 23 and eight points.
The Rockets, 8-1 at home but 4-5 away from Houston, hope to turn it around against a Bobcats team tied with Memphis for the worst record in the league at 5-13.
Before Houston’s 102-78 victory Jan. 25 in the last meeting between the teams, however, the Bobcats had won the first three games between the teams and are 2-0 in Charlotte in the series.
McGrady has averaged 27.7 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in three games against Charlotte, while Yao has averaged 18.0 points and 11.5 rebounds in two games. He missed both contests last season while recovering from toe surgery.
Houston is in the midst of a stretch in which it plays 10 of 12 games on the road. The Rockets visit Washington on Sunday and host the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday before leaving on a five-game trip.
The Bobcats are in the midst of a tough four-game homestand against teams with winning records. They beat Detroit 97-89 on Sunday before losing 96-76 to San Antonio on Wednesday.
Charlotte faces Phoenix on Sunday.
The Bobcats were blown out by the Spurs, two weeks after beating them 95-92 in overtime at San Antonio. Adam Morrison scored only four points on 1-for-10 shooting, and is 2-for-15 from the field in the last two games.
“These are the nights we talk about with young players, that you have to find a way to get over the mountain,” Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. “As we told Adam, there will be plenty of nights like this. When you have those nights and everybody has one, you have to find a way to contribute to your team.”
One young player stepping up for the Bobcats is Sean May, who scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds Wednesday and is averaging 17.0 points and 8.4 rebounds in his last five games, all as a reserve.
After missing 59 games last season, the 2005 first-round pick seems more comfortable this season.
“I’m starting to find my role and where I fit into this system,” May said. “My teammates have done a great job of putting me in good situations. I’m starting to be more comfortable, but you never want to be complacent because we still have a long way to go.”
Houston has won seven of its last 10 games, while Charlotte is 3-7 during that stretch.