The 7-foot Blount continued his recent strong play with 21 points and 10 rebounds in the Timberwolves’ 103-99 overtime victory over the Houston Rockets on Sunday.
Garnett still led the way with 26 points and 13 rebounds, but Blount’s 6-for-12 shooting performance—including his second 3-pointer of the season— and eight free throws helped ease the burden.
“He’s been making it easier,” Garnett said of Blount, who averaged 18 points in his last eight games.
The Wolves have won four straight, including the last three in overtime, and seven of their last nine overall.
“They’re able to extend the offense, having two 7-footers who can shoot,” Tracy McGrady said. “It allows them to get some easier chances because we have to defend them out there.”
McGrady scored 31 points for Houston, which had its five-game winning streak snapped. It was McGrady’s fourth 30-point performance in five games, but it took him 29 shots to reach it, as the Wolves constantly threw a second defender at McGrady whenever he came off a pick.
“We formed a wall and made him take tough shots,” Randy Foye said.
Shane Battier added 20 points for the Rockets and Juwan Howard 19. But Houston went 12-for-19 from the free throw line, while the Wolves were 34-for-40. The Rockets attempted two second-half free throws.
“That is obviously problematic,” Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. “We scored more points than them in the paint, so we were obviously going to the basket.”
Houston led 94-93 with 2:24 to play in overtime before Garnett sank two foul shots and fed Blount for a layup on Minnesota’s next possession. It gave the Timberwolves a 97-94 lead with 1:29 left.
Mike James added a driving layup for Minnesota after McGrady and Rafer Alston both missed on Houston’s ensuing possession. Trenton Hassell, who guarded McGrady for most of the game, and James each added two free throws apiece in the final seconds to seal the win.
“Not really what we want,” Garnett said of the Wolves’ third consecutive overtime game. “But we’ll take it any way we can get it.”
Houston fell to 5-2 since losing Yao Ming to a broken bone in his right leg.
Minnesota led by nine with 7:31 to play in regulation before Houston went on a 14-3 run and led 84-82 at the 4:15 mark.
With 11 seconds left and Minnesota leading 88-86, McGrady drove the lane and hit a driving, up-and-under layup against Hassell to make it 88-all. Garnett missed a turnaround with Battier and Dikembe Mutombo in his face to send the game to overtime.
McGrady, Alston and Howard combined for 30 of Houston’s 40 first-half points, although none of them shot particularly well. McGrady was 4-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-9 from the foul line.
The Wolves, by contrast, stayed close in the first half thanks to some strong free-throw shooting. Minnesota hit 16 of 18 from the line and led 44-40 at the break.
Houston is 0-9 when trailing after three quarters. … Blount’s 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter was the fifth he’s taken this season (2-for-5). … Mutombo entered the game averaging 11.6 minutes, but has played 25 minutes a game in his previous five games. Van Gundy said before the game that he wasn’t concerned yet about putting the mileage on the 40-year-old’s body. … Minnesota played its first of six day games this season. “I hate waiting all day,” coach Dwane Casey said when asked his thoughts about playing early games.