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Houston forces Minnesota into an 0--for-10 shooting spree

1/8/2003

HOUSTON (AP) -- It looked like a lot of offense, but the Houston
Rockets said defense was the thing that led to a 19-0 run in the
second quarter Tuesday night.

Maurice Taylor had six of his season-high 18 points during the
run as the Houston Rockets beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 94-86
Tuesday night.

Leading 23-15, Minnesota went 0-for-10 during a span of 6:21 in
the pivotal quarter. Kevin Garnett, who had 25 points and 16
rebounds, ended the Timberwolves' drought with a short jumper.

''Our defense carried us during that stretch,'' Rockets coach
Rudy Tomjanovich said. ''That's what it's got to be like if you
want to win in this league. You can say it or you can dream it, but
you have to go out and do it just like that.

''The bench came in and played great defense and Mo gave us an
offensive lift.''

Taylor had 10 points in the second period as Houston led by as
many as 12. The Rockets were up 42-36 at the half.

''Defensively we all did good job then,'' Taylor said.
''(Kelvin) Cato, Eddie (Griffin), Glen (Rice) and (James) Posey all
played good defense then. We had it going today.''

Rice agreed.

''The only thing we did in the second quarter was we kept the
defensive pressure on them,'' he said. ''And we hit some shots.''

The Timberwolves, however, didn't think the Rockets' defense
bothered them that much.

''No, not at all,'' said Kendall Gill, who had 17 points. ''We
had great looks, but we couldn't hit a shot. Unfortunately, that
was the telltale sign of the game.

''When you're missing jumpers, it gives fastbreak opportunities
to them. And when you're playing defense most of the night, you're
not going to win the game.''

Coach Flip Saunders also blamed the defeat on poor shooting as the
Timberwolves hit only 35.9 percent of their shots.

''We just couldn't make shots,'' Saunders said. ''We had good
looks. We just couldn't make them. They were mid-range shots.
That's one of the main things we do well.''

Steve Francis added 14 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds
before fouling out for the first time this season with 3:34 to
play.

Oddly Francis, who leads the Rockets in field-goal attempts with
more than 500, didn't take a shot until there were 26 seconds left
in the first half. Instead, he had seven assists, five rebounds and
no turnovers to go with six points, which included 4-for-5 free
throws in the half.

Cuttino Mobley scored 19 points and Rice 15 for Houston. Yao
Ming added nine points and 12 rebounds.

With Garnett and Rasho Nesterovic scoring four points apiece,
the Timberwolves took a 12-5 lead. Mobley scored five points as the
Rockets closed to 17-15 before Minnesota settled in for a 19-15
lead after one period.

Houston went on an 11-0 run in the third quarter with Mobley
scoring six to expand the lead to 58-43 with 5:47 to play.

The lead crested at 19 before the Rockets settled for a 74-57
advantage at the end of the third. Mobley had 10 points and Rice
nine in the quarter.

Francis' two free throws gave Houston its widest lead at 82-62
with 5:34 remaining in the game. Minnesota had a 9-0 run late in
the game that closed the margin to six, but Taylor scored eight of
his points the final 2:03 to maintain the lead.

Game notes
Wally Szczerbiak, who has played only four games due to a
dislocated left little toe, was activated from the injured list Monday. He didn't suit up and isn't expected to play before some
time next week. ... Houston, which plays at Orlando on Wednesday,
is 3-4 in the first of back-to-back games and 4-2 on the second
games. ... Mobley had a season-high four steals, one short of his
career best ... Rod Strickland sat out the game with a sore
tailbone.