MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kevin Martin scored 31 points to lead the Houston Rockets to their seventh straight victory, 107-92 over Minnesota on Monday night in coach Kevin McHale’s first game back at Target Center since he was fired by the Timberwolves in 2009.
Kyle Lowry had 16 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds and Samuel Dalembert grabbed 15 rebounds for the Rockets, who put the game away with a 19-1 run bridging the third and fourth quarters.
Kevin Love had 39 points and 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who committed 10 turnovers in the fourth quarter in coach Rick Adelman’s first game against the team he spent the last four seasons coaching.
Ricky Rubio had 12 assists for Minnesota, but the rookie scored just six points on 2-for-10 shooting and turned the ball over five times.
The Rockets started the season 3-7 and were 0-5 on the road against Western Conference foes entering the game.
But the 6-foot-7 Martin was way too much for Minnesota’s small backcourt, overwhelming Luke Ridnour and Wayne Ellington with an array of cuts to the basket, turn-around jumpers and even a one-handed runner off one foot that swished through that gave the Rockets a 50-42 lead late in the first half.
The Wolves turned up the defense to take a 70-65 lead late in the third, but the Rockets blew the doors open with that big run to take control. Goran Dragic scored eight in the surge and finished with 14 points.
McHale was booed lustily when introduced before the game, a startling reception for someone who once was one of this state’s most revered sports heroes.
McHale grew up in Hibbing on Minnesota’s Iron Range and starred at the University of Minnesota before a Hall of Fame pro career with the Boston Celtics.
He took over as GM of the Timberwolves in 1995 and helped one of the league’s most woeful franchises become relevant when he drafted Kevin Garnett out of high school in June of that year. The Wolves made the playoffs eight straight years, the last a magical run to the Western Conference finals in 2004.
The Wolves haven’t been back to the postseason since, with a series of ill-fated decisions by McHale contributing to their downfall. He was fired in 2009 and spent two seasons in television before joining the Rockets this year.
Adelman had a similar exit from Houston, with management deciding not to give him another contract after last season.
Martin, Lowry and Luis Scola all went over to shake Adelman’s hand before the game. Adelman spent four seasons in Houston and helped an undermanned team take the Lakers to seven games in the 2009 Western Conference finals.
NOTES: The short-handed Wolves were without Michael Beasley (sprained right foot) for the 10th straight game, J.J. Barea (strained left hamstring) for the sixth time in seven games and forward Wes Johnson (illness). … Minnesota rookie Derrick Williams got his first career start and finished with 11 points and seven rebounds. … Rockets F Patrick Patterson picked up three fouls in just over 1 minute of playing time in the first quarter.
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