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Rockets Defensively Outmanned By Kids In Loss To Minnesota

By TERRANCE HARRIS, SportsRadio 610
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(credit: Suzie Brockman/NBAE via Getty Images)

(credit: Suzie Brockman/NBAE via Getty Images)

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HOUSTON (CBS Houston) — There were times Monday night Rockets guard Kevin Martin swore the Minnesota Timberwolves had one more man on the floor than Houston could defend.

Michael Beasley, Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, with younger legs, just reigned down shots from any and everywhere en route to pummeling the Rockets 120-108 at Toyota Center. It was just one of those nights where the Rockets couldn’t get a stop from anywhere.

“I use the word outmanned,” Martin said. “They are a talented group of kids. Rubio came in and played like a man tonight, Beasley came in and played like a man, Love came in and played like a man and they outmanned us the whole night.”

In all honesty the T’Wolves played a like a talented team with some offensive ability, which is far different than the opponents the Rockets have loaded up wins on as of late. Where the Rockets excelled defensively against the offensively challenged Washington Wizards and New York Knicks over the weekend, they just seemed out of their class against Minnesota on Monday night.

Beasley exposed them early when came off the bench and looked like the All-Star he was once draft to be, shaking first Chandler Parsons with ease and then Chase Budinger. Beasley torched the Rockets for a season-best 34 points off the bench.

Love, who scored 29 points during last week’s game against the Rockets, scored 29 points again with an array of post moves and sick outside shots, while Rubio also looked unstoppable on the way to a double-double with 18 points and 11 assists.

The T’Wolves shot an impressive 58 percent for the game.

This certainly wasn’t the John Wall the disjointed bunch the Wizards brought into Toyota Center on Friday night.

“It might have been a step up in class but surely it was a step down in our effort and our seeing what was happening, running our schemes and doing what we have to do was not (there),” said Rockets coach Kevin McHale, whose team is about to play seven of its next eight games on the road.  “We left guys open, we didn’t switch. We just made a lot of mistakes defensively. We weren’t in tune right from the star of that game.”

But the Rockets really left their worst for the third quarter when they allowed the T’Wolves to score 42 points on nearly 63 percent shooting from the field. Rubio scored 12 on a series of jumpers and penetrations while Beasley contributed 11 points.

The Rockets led at halftime 56-54, but Minnesota used a 12-4 run in the first three minutes of the third quarter to help open up a 96-81 lead by the time the period was over. There was simply no coming back from there, especially the way the Rockets were defending.

“Coach always gets mad when the other team scores 30 points which is still not a good defensive effort,” said Courtney Lee. “You want to keep a team scoring in the 20s or below.

“To give up that many points, you have to give a better effort on the defensive end.”

And for whatever reason the Rockets couldn’t do that against Minnesota. They lack a versatile and athletic enough player at the small forward to effectively guard an explosive player like Beasley. Samuel Dalembert and Patrick Patterson had their hands more than full enough with Love to be of much help.

That left Parson and Budinger to try to defend or at least front Beasley, with help using sliding over late and slapping at the ball for ticky tack fouls. And Beasley made them pay at the free throw line, too, with a 12 for 12 showing.

“You don’t foul him, make him take some shots, push him to his right hand,” McHale said when asked how he wanted to defend Beasley. “But we need our help to come over and our help was late a couple of times. He beat us on some drives where we got on our toes. Basically with Beasley you have to keep him in front of you and make him make shots.

“He made a couple shots early and then he got going. It was just hard to stop him.”

At least part of it may have been the Rockets were facing a coach in Rick Adelman, their former coach, who knew vulnerability of his opponent against the pick-n-roll. The Rockets never adjusted to it although they still employ some pick-n-roll offense under McHale.

“He’s a great coach,” said Rockets point guard Kyle Lowry, who began to flourish under Adelman last season. “That guy gives his players the ultimate confidence to just go out there and play freely. Beasley and Rubio played awesome tonight. The made shots and got it going.”

The Rockets also made shots, scoring a respectable 108 points with Martin contributing 29 points in his return after missing two games with a heel injury. The problem was they couldn’t string together stops on the other end.

“We scored 108 points so our offense wasn’t our problem,” McHale said. “Our problem was our defense.”

That is something that has to change as the T’Wolves were just the beginning what is sure to be a much more challenging slate in the near future.

“The big thing right now is trying to get back on track as a team,” Martin said. “We have to come out with a lot of heart because we came out and got outmanned by some kids tonight.”

Contact Terrance Harris at terrancefharris@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @Terranceharris

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