The Houston Rockets are the hottest team in the NBA.
Dwight Howard, James Harden, and company entered their road tilt with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night as winners of 5 straight, and while the game was in the balance for 3 quarters, Houston turned on the jets in route to a 107-89 runaway win. All five members of Houston’s starting five scored 14 points or more in the game, but it was Howard who was the anchor on both sides of the floor. The All-Star big man finished with 18 points, 15 rebounds, and 3 blocks, but the Rockets were simply better with him on the floor, and that was illustrated by his game-high +27 rating.
It was very much a “Houston”-like effort offensively for the Rockets, as they knocked down 11 threes and converted 18-for-20 at the free throw line, but it was actually their defense that did the majority of the work. Other than allowing All-NBA power forward Kevin Love to go off for 31 points and 10 rebounds, Houston did lock-down work on that end, holding Minnesota (in their own building) to just 35.6% from the field and a dismal 6-for-25 from beyond the arc.
With the win, the Rockets now move into theoretical home-court advantage in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, but on the other end, Minnesota falls even further out of the playoffs as they sit 7 games out in the loss column. These two teams are going in different directions, but in Houston, the preseason hype is beginning to translate into wins.