Rockets pay a visit to struggling Timberwolves

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Rockets should have an easy time with the Minnesota Timberwolves Friday night on the road at Target Center.

The Rockets have won five of their last six games and are 14-4 this season. They are coming off an impressive 105-96 win over the then NBA-best Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday and James Harden scored 21 points. Harden is third in the NBA in scoring with 25.0 ppg.

Houston led for the final 38 minutes of the game and by as many as 27 points in the second half. Trevor Ariza and Jason Terry scored 16 points apiece, while Donatas Motiejunas added 15 points for Houston, which shot 44.1 percent for the game and recorded 30 points on 21 Memphis turnovers.

Memphis shot 51.3 percent, but the miscues added up.

"We played really well," said Rockets coach Kevin McHale. "Guys moved the ball and attacked them before they got set, which is one of the keys to beating those guys. That's a really good team and a hell of a win for us."

McHale's bunch is 7-1 on the road and first in opponents' scoring at 93.0 percent. Opposing teams are shooting just 42.7 percent against the Rockets, who haven't had center Dwight Howard (knee) in the lineup since Nov. 17 and he's posting an average of 18.8 points and 11.3 rebounds.

Howard is out indefinitely and has missed seven straight games.

Rockets guard Isaiah Canaan (ankle) is listed as questionable Friday.

The Timberwolves are a disappointing 4-13 this season and became victims of the previously winless Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday night. In an 85-77 setback to a squad of baby-faced players, former Sixer Thaddeus Young scored 16 points and Gorgui Dieng added 15 and 16 rebounds.

Mo Williams scored 14 points, handed out seven assists and grabbed six rebounds for Minnesota, which shot only 35.7 percent and hit on 3-of-17 3- pointers. The T-wolves turned the ball over 19 times and misfired on six of their final seven possessions.

"We're not a very good team right now and we've all got to get better," said Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders. "We've got to work with our guys more to get them to do what we need to do."

Saunders' team has lost three straight and 11 of the last 13 games, and is winless in the previous four at home. The Wolves have a 2-6 home record.

Minnesota, which is 1-12 when allowing 100 or more points and 1-13 when being outshot, is still toiling without guards Ricky Rubio (ankle) and Kevin Martin (wrist) and center Nikola Pekovic (wrist/foot). All three have missed a combined 27 games.

The Timberwolves sustained a 113-101 loss to Houston on Nov. 12 in Mexico City, as Harden led the way with a game-best 23 points. Howard had 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Corey Brewer countered with 18 points for Minnesota.

Houston went 3-1 against Minnesota last season and has won 21 of the previous 27 games in this series. Houston has won 10 of its last 13 trips to Minnesota, and the two teams will meet again Feb. 23 and March 27 in Houston.