Timberwolves-Rockets Preview

The Associated Press

After their frustration boiled over during a late-game collapse, the Houston Rockets should be able to remain composed as they attempt to extend their winning streak back on their own floor.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are off to a hot start at home, but they're still trying to figure out how to win on the road.

Dwight Howard and the high-scoring Rockets go for their fourth straight home win Saturday night as they attempt to deal Kevin Love and the Timberwolves their fourth consecutive road defeat.

Houston (8-5) appeared to be on its way to a fourth straight win overall Wednesday at Dallas with an 18-point third-quarter lead before the Mavericks stormed back for a 123-120 victory.

With the Rockets leading 116-111, Howard drew a technical foul when he tossed the ball into the seats while turning toward the court. The Mavericks were awarded a free throw that helped them close the contest on a 9-1 run.

"In the fourth quarter, we went away from what we were doing the first three quarters,'' said Howard, who was fined $25,000 for his actions. ''We've just got to read how teams are playing us. It's growing pains. We have a very young team. We've got to realize what we can do as a team.''

Howard will try to build on one of his best performances, making his first 11 shots on the way to a season-high 33 points on 12-of-16 shooting.

While with Orlando and the Los Angeles Lakers, Howard's teams won 10 straight games against the Timberwolves (8-6). The seven-time All-Star played in nine of those meetings, averaging 17.1 points and 12.7 rebounds.

Although the Timberwolves were one of the league's biggest surprises during a 5-2 start, they've dropped four of their last seven contests. With five starters scoring in double figures, they snapped a two-game losing streak Friday with a 111-81 victory over visiting Brooklyn.

''We wanted to finish it,'' said Corey Brewer, who had 15 points for Minnesota. ''We were up and we wanted to step on them.''

Love, who ranks among league leaders with 24.8 points per game, finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds against the Nets. He totaled 62 points on 21-of-31 shooting with 24 rebounds in his last two trips to Houston, but missed last year's visit because of a broken right hand.

With Kevin Martin averaging 23.1 points per game, Minnesota is the only team with two players among the league's top 10 in scoring.

The Timberwolves, one of the league's highest scoring teams at 107.3 points per game, should be able to find open looks against a Houston squad that has allowed the second most points (105.9).

James Harden has helped make up for the defensive shortcomings, leading the Rockets with 24.2 points per contest. He averaged 28.3 while helping Houston take two of three from Minnesota last season.

In the most recent meeting on March 15, Harden had 37 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and five 3-pointers in Houston's 108-100 home win.

The Rockets, who lead the NBA with 109.7 per game, have averaged 113.7 points during their three-game home winning streak. They'll try to continue that production against the Timberwolves, who have allowed 110.0 points while dropping three straight on the road.

Minnesota had won three consecutive visits before losing in Houston last season.

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