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Rockets Take On Wolves In Bottom Feeder Battle

(Sports Network) - Two of the worst teams in the Western Conference early this season meet in south Texas Sunday as the winless Houston Rockets host the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves.

Things were supposed to be shaky in Minneapolis as the Wolves entered their second season of rebuilding under coach Kurt Rambis, but Houston was supposed to be back in the postseason hunt after the return of All-Star center Yao Ming, who missed all of 2009-10 season after surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot.

Instead the Rockets are the NBA's lone remaining winless team after a 124-121 overtime setback in San Antonio last night. Tony Parker scored seven of his 21 points in the extra frame of that one and added 14 assists, as the Spurs held off Houston.

The Rockets should be able turn things around tonight against Minnesota, a team they have dominated recently. Houston has won 11 straight against the Wolves, including seven consecutive at Toyota Center.

Despite leaving in the third quarter with a left ankle sprain Kevin Martin scored 24 points for the Rockets, who are off to an 0-5 start for the first time since the 1999-2000 campaign, against the Spurs. Luis Scola added 20 points and eight boards, while Aaron Brooks had 18 points despite leaving at halftime, also with a left ankle sprain.

Houston missed a trio of three-pointers in the final seconds.

"I'm proud of the guys the way they played and battled back and had the chance to win," Rockets head coach Rick Adelman said. "They're big players; they make big shots. You know [Manu] Ginobili made shot after shot, Parker made a couple jumpers. We made two crucial mistakes in the overtime and it cost us."

Yao, who is averaging 12.7 points and 7.3 rebounds this season, missed last night's contest in an effort to limit his minutes to try and keep the oft- injured big man healthy. The Chinese star is expected back in the lineup tonight. Meanwhile, both Martin and Brooks will be evaluated Sunday, and it remains to be seen if either can play against the Timberwolves.

The Wolves suffered their latest loss in the Twin Cities on Friday when Josh Smith scored 20 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and dished out six assists, as the Atlanta Hawks stayed perfect on the season with a 113-103 victory over Minnesota at Target Center.

Rookie Wesley Johnson, Kevin Love, and Corey Brewer each had 18 points for the Timberwolves, who have lost four in a row overall. Michael Beasley added 16 points and six boards, while Love pulled down 12 rebounds.

"It's frustrating when you can't get stops," Beasley said. "We were getting everything we wanted on our end, we just couldn't stop them on the other side of the floor. It's something we have to work on and get better at."

Follow along with fellow Rockets fans at The Dream Shake.

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.