Rockets at Timberwolves
Not much has gone right of late for either the Houston Rockets or the Minnesota Timberwolves, but at least one of the teams will be assured of ending a lengthy losing streak when they square off Saturday night in Minneapolis. The Rockets stumble into the matchup having lost a season-high six consecutive games, including Friday's 105-95 defeat at Indiana in the second stop on a four-game road trip. Houston had won five in a row - four by double digits - before the current spiral that has dropped it to only one game above .500.
The Rockets will get no sympathy from the Timberwolves, who have dropped five in a row and continue to be staggered by a seemingly unending string of injuries. The latest casualty was starting center Nikola Pekovic, who is expected to miss a week to 10 days after suffering a bruised right quadriceps in Thursday's loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. With Pekovic and Kevin Love sidelined, it robs the Timberwolves of their top two scorers and rebounders.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Comcast SportsNet Houston
ABOUT THE ROCKETS (21-20): The one constant for Houston this season has been the scoring prowess of James Harden, but even he has struggled during the current skid. Harden has his streak of 22 consecutive 20-point games halted when he scored 17 in Friday's loss to the Pacers. Harden connected on 5 of 19 shots against Indiana and was even worse in Wednesday's loss at Dallas, misfiring on 18 of 23 attempts and hitting only 1 of 8 3-pointers. He's also committed 31 turnovers during the six-game tailspin.
ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (16-20): In addition to Pekovic's injury, rookie guard Alexey Shved left Thursday's game against the Clippers due to a sprained ankle. Minnesota, which had only seven healthy bodies at practice Friday, has been granted a hardship exception that will allow the team to exceed the 15-man roster limit due to the rash of injuries. The Timberwolves have agreed to terms with French swingman Mickael Gelabale and now will look for a bigger body with the exception, team president of basketball operations David Kahn said.
1. Harden scored 30 points to lift the Rockets to an 87-84 win in Minnesota on Dec. 26.
2. Timberwolves PG Ricky Rubio, making his way back from knee surgery, made his first start of the season vs. the Clippers and finished with four points and six assists.
3. Houston C Omer Asik scored a career-high 22 points to go along with 12 rebounds Friday.