MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves saw disappointing seasons come to a merciful end Wednesday night.
Now they both head into an offseason of uncertainty, not sure when they’ll be playing again or who will be coaching them when they return from what many fear will be an extended lockout.
Chase Budinger scored a career-high 35 points and Kevin Martin added 25 to lead the Rockets to a 121-102 victory over the Timberwolves in the season finale for both teams.
“I just enjoy these guys so much,” Rockets coach Rick Adelman said. “You look at tonight, we scored (121) points and we had 32 assists. Really unselfish again tonight. I just love the way they finished the season. It’s just like the did it all year. We could’ve caved in a couple of times and we never did it all year long.”
Michael Beasley scored 34 points and Anthony Randolph had 23 for the Timberwolves (17-65), who lost their last 15 games of the season to finish with the worst record in the NBA.
“I’m going to hold on to the positives,” Wolves coach Kurt Rambis said. “Obviously the record was atrocious. Nobody feels good about that. But a lot of guys made tremendous improvement.”
Houston’s Goran Dragic chipped in 11 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds for the first triple-double of his career. Courtney Lee added 22 points and the Rockets shot 50 percent for the game.
“I don’t know what got into me,” Dragic said.
The Rockets led by 21 points early in the third quarter, but the Wolves had a 25-6 run to pull to 90-89 heading into the final period of the season.
Beasley was electric on offense, topping 30 points for the first time since Jan. 26 against Oklahoma City. He shot 13 of 27 and scored every way possible.
But like he has done all season, he struggled defend the opposing small forward, leaving Budinger open on the perimeter time and time again. Budinger’s jumper from the top of the key gave the Rockets a 107-100 lead with less than five minutes to play, and the Wolves faded from there.
The Rockets (43-39) played without point guard Kyle Lowry, who missed the game with a sore left foot, but finished the season with one more victory than last season.
Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love watched from the bench for the sixth straight game because of a groin injury, a disappointing end to a year in which he won the rebound title with 15.2 per game.
Rambis has two years left on his deal, but team president David Kahn declined to comment on his job security at a press conference earlier in the day.
“I love Kurt,” Beasley said. “I really don’t want Kurt to go anywhere. If it happens, it happens. That’s life and you’ve got to move on.”
Adelman’s future is just as cloudy. He has coached the Rockets for the last four seasons, guiding them through a rough period of injuries to Yao Ming, the trade of Tracy McGrady and rebuilding around Martin.
The Rockets won eight of 10 games as March closed to sneak into playoff contention, but they were eliminated from the playoffs with a loss to Sacramento last Friday.
The Rockets will miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season after making it five of the previous six seasons. Adelman has coached the team to a winning record four straight seasons in the powerful Western Conference.
“Our team wanted to win this game for him,” Budinger said. “He’s such a great coach, a great guy and I really hope he’s back next year.”
NOTES: Wolves PG Jonny Flynn missed the game due to personal reasons. C Darko Milicic sat out because of a sprained left ankle. … Newly drafted Lynx star Maya Moore had a third-row seat at halfcourt. … Hip-hop star P. Diddy attended the game as well.
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