Going into Tuesday's game the Rockets were one of the hottest teams in the league.
Unfortunately the Timberwolves are the hottest.
Kevin Garnett and his Minnesota squad were too much for the Rockets, ending Houston's 6-game winning streak 92-84.
The loss drops the Rockets record to 16-25.
Garnett was too strong, nailing jumpers baseline, across the paint and even from three-point range. He finished with 27 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 steals and 11 posterings of Matt Bullard.
And one of the few times you'll see it or have seen it, an opposing point guard outplayed Steve Francis. Terrell Brandon finished with 26 points and 8 assists, hitting 11-19 from the field.
Francis put up big numbers (24 points, 5 boards -- all offensive -- and 4 assists) but got some of those late when the game was about over. Steve hit 7-17 from the field and 9-13 at the line.
Two big bright spots for the Rockets however was the play of Kenny Thomas and Cuttino Mobley.
Thomas hit 7-11 shots for 17 points and 8 boards in 39 minutes (saw even more PT with Bullard in early foul trouble). Kenny showed some great post moves and in our opinion didn't get much of a fair shake from the refs. However, Kenny's no fluke -- his play has been consistently solid if not spectacular lately.
Mobley also continues his scoring tear, knocking down 18 points in 27 minutes of action. He hit 4-6 from long range (8-12 in last two games) and 6-10 overall. In fact, without Mobley, the rest of the Rockets hit 3-14 from three-point territory.
Walt Williams finished with 16 points on 6-16 shooting while Shandon Anderson struggled offensively, missing all 5 of the shots he took for 1 point, 6 boards and 6 assists.
Both teams started ice cold though...
After a strong drive and spin move by Kenny Thomas, the Rockets trailed 10-8. The score was stuck on 12-10 for the longest time before both teams hit a few shots before the quarter ended. The Rockets shot just over 29% in the quarter while the Twolves were at 30%.
Rookie Wally Szczerbiak saw his first PT and scored 7 quick points, giving the Wolves a 25-18 edge, but the Rockers rallied to tie the score at 27. From there however the Wolves outscored the Rockets 16-6 and led 43-36 at halftime.
The Rockets in the first half looked about as bad as they have all year, shooting 30% combined in both quarters. It was amazing they weren't getting destroyed.
I say that because then came the third quarter.
I call it the "Timberwolves shoot open baseline jumpers all day" quarter.
The poor play continued, only the Wolves got hot. After two Garnett jumpers over Bullard baseline, a Sam Mitchell long jumper and another from the same spot by Malik Sealy, the Rockets trailed 51-38. After a Brandon layup, they led 61-46.
After a Garnett three, it was 66-50.
Mobley hit a three just before the third quarter ended to make it a 70-58 lead Minnesota.
Kenny Thomas got the fourth started with two buckets - one a sweet fade jumper in the paint. A Francis slam cut the lead to 8, but Garnett followed with a jumper and Anthony Peeler nailed a 16-footer to up the lead back to 12.
However, after three Francis free throws followed by a long jumper, the Rockets only trailed by 5, 80-75, with just under 3 minutes to go.
Solid defense forced a Timeberwolf miss, and Pig Miller rebounded and was pushed out of bounds but didn't get the call. The Timberwolves couldn't score though, which meant the Rockets could cut the lead to 2 or 3.
However, a bizarre offensive foul was made on Kenny Thomas on a screen where he really didn't even touch the defender (I've seen Karl Malone staple gun people to the floor on moving picks and get no call) and that took the steam out of the Rocks. Joe Smith on the other end got the tough jumper and foul to go to up the lead back to 88-80 and that was all she wrote.