HOUSTON — This was a different sort of homecoming.
Remember a week ago? When the Houston Rockets came to Target Center with Kevin McHale as coach? McHale, the former Timberwolves exec and coach, was booed rather loudly. Monday night, the Wolves came here, where current Wolves coach Rick Adelman worked the past four seasons.
When he was introduced, the crowd hardly reacted. Perhaps Rockets fans have moved on a bit more quickly.
But what fans there were left in the Toyota Center on Monday booed at the end, after the Wolves had put on a display of offense not seen in a while. In a 120-108 victory over the Rockets—a team that had won nine out of its prior 10 games—the Wolves:
—Scored a franchise-record 42 third-quarter points, a 12-minute span in which Michael Beasley (11 points) and Ricky Rubio (12) completely took over the game;
—Set a season-high in points scored;
—Offered proof that Beasley, in his third game back after missing 11 games because of a mid-foot sprain, is back. He shot (10-for-14), drove to the basket (12-for-12 on free throws) and helped the Wolves take over the game. He finished with 34 points, the most ever scored off the bench by a Timberwolf.
Had enough of the records?
Well, it was also the first time this season the Wolves (10-11) have won when giving up 100 or more points. But when the offense is working like it did Monday, that doesn’t really surprise.
Love finished with 29 points and seven rebounds, failing to reach a double-double for only the second time this season. Rubio had 18 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds.
After that monstrous third quarter, the Wolves—who shot 57.5 percent for the game—held a 15-point lead entering the fourth. Houston never really threatened again.
The Wolves broke with recent tradition by getting off to a good start, building leads of 6-0 and 8-2 before the Rockets got things going. Still, getting five points from Love, Luke Ridnour and—off the bench—Beasley, the Wolves led 26-24 after one quarter.
That didn’t last. Both teams were shooting well, but turnovers were hurting the Wolves. The Rockets grew the lead to nine on Kevin Martin’s three-pointer to make it 47-38. But the Wolves, with Rubio back in the game after a rest, closed the half on a 16-9 run thanks to Love (five points), Martell Webster (five also, including a three-point play) and Rubio to make it 56-54 Rockets heading into the break.
That run continued in the third quarter.
The third quarter began as a back-and-forth affair. With Rubio doing more scoring, the Wolves went on a 9-2 run—and a 20-6 run dating to the end of the second quarter — — to turn a two-point deficit into a six-point lead. But the Rockets came right back to tie the score at 68-68.
From then on out, the quarter was all Wolves.
And that can be taken literally. As in franchise-record literally. Leading by two, the Wolves ended the third quarter on a 19-6 run, one led by Beasley, who scored 11 of those points on four free throws, two two-pointers and a three-pointer off a pass from from Rubio.
When the dust cleared, the Wolves had shot 15-for-24 (62.5 percent) while scoring those 42 points.
Kevin Martin scored 29 points for the Rockets, but he didn’t get much help from his teammates. Houston also missed nine free throws in 30 attempts.