If Rockets coach Kevin McHale was holding something, he would have broken it. If he had a door, he’d have slammed it, a desk, he would have pounded it. His body language was clear and it was screaming, but when McHale gathered the Rockets who had been on the floor, he had plenty left to say. He also had his usual move to make. After watching the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Rockets to nearly every loose ball and far too many rebounds, he turned to his small, energy lineup and turned the game around. The Rockets snapped out of whatever funk had afflicted them until they had gone from a 10-point deficit to a 29-point lead and a 129-106 rout with a second consecutive dominant offensive performance Thursday night at Toyota Center. “He was, uh, fired up,” guard James Harden said. “But I told him, ‘It’s OK. We’re going to be all right.’ Games like this are going to happen. He calmed down a little bit. We got some stops, scored the basketball. We took it from there.” The Rockets had started the game happy to trade baskets with the Timberwolves but were so careless with the ball, they could not even do that, committing seven turnovers in the first eight minutes. By the second quarter, they were losing so many loose balls, even a jump ball bounced between Rockets players until the Timberwolves grabbed it and scored to push the lead to 41-31. McHale had enough. “He screamed,” forward Donatas Motiejunas said. “He was yelling at us, and from that moment, you saw different faces when we stepped on the court. Sometimes you need to do that, to light the players on fire. It worked this time. “Of course we deserved it. Did you see how we played? It was tough to watch for everyone. But after that timeout, things turned to our side.” Immediate results McHale returned Pat Beverley to the floor with Jeremy Lin, Harden, Motiejunas and Omri Casspi. The game never was the same. Harden immediately drilled a 3-pointer and then pulled up on a break for another. Casspi turned a steal into a dunk. Harden put in a layup. Just 2½ minutes after McHale had angrily called a timeout, the Wolves’ 10-point lead was gone. “We weren’t playing very well, so I got into them a little bit and they responded,” McHale said. “We didn’t have good ball movement. We didn’t have good energy. We were kind of content to score 27 points in the first quarter. We seemed pretty content to give up 33. The guys really brought their energy after that. That group got us going.” The Rockets needed barely three minutes to put together a 17-0 run. The small lineup moved the ball and ran the floor. Once the Rockets went from down 10 to a 10-point halftime lead, the Timberwolves were never as close again.
After lethargic start, Rockets come alive to beat Timberwolves
Houston Chronicle | Mar 21