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 Rockets overpower smaller Timberwolves

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PostSubject: Rockets overpower smaller Timberwolves   Mon Mar 02, 2009 7:24 pm

MINNEAPOLIS(AP) 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."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 passing 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.''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.

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