HOUSTON – Rick Adelman has mostly good memories from his years in Houston, and his new team delivered one more on Monday night.
Michael Beasley scored 34 points, Ricky Rubio had 18 points and 11 assists and the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Rockets 120-108 in Adelman’s return to Houston.
Kevin Love had 29 points for the Timberwolves, who blew open a close game with a franchise-record 42 points in the third, also a season high for any quarter.
The six-foot-10 Beasley, in just his third game back after missing 11 games with a sprained right foot, set a franchise record for single-game points by a reserve. He went 10 for 14 from the field and 12 for 12 from the free-throw line to finish just eight points shy of his career high.
“That’s what I’ve got to do,” Beasley said. “I’ve got to penetrate, use my athleticism.”
Minnesota shot a season-best 58 per cent (43 of 74) from the field and eclipsed its previous high point total for the season by 14.
And it could’ve hardly happened on a better night for Adelman, who turned down the Rockets’ offer to renew his contract after last season because of philosophical differences with owner Leslie Alexander and general manager Daryl Morey.
“We didn’t try to attack on one pass, we moved the ball from side to side,” Adelman said. “I thought we could get to the basket if we did that. It was a really good team win. A lot of guys played and a lot of guys contributed.”
Adelman revealed more about the reasons for his departure before the game, half-joking that he was still awaiting a phone call from Alexander. Adelman said he read in a local newspaper column that he was to blame for the communication breakdown between the two during his tenure.
“I didn’t think anything of it, until I saw the stuff about how I never listened to anything,” he said. “I’m not real smart, but I’m going to listen to my boss. That just kind of turned me the wrong way.”
Morey walked up and shook Adelman’s hand during pregame warmups, and the two had a brief, apparently cordial conversation.
Adelman seemed more animated on the sideline than usual, though, especially once the second half began.
The Timberwolves opened the second half with a 12-4 burst, capped by Love’s second three-pointer for a 66-60 lead. Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin answered with three-pointers, and Lowry turned a steal into a breakaway layup to tie it at 68.
Minnesota then pushed the tempo and poured it on, finishing the quarter with a 19-6 spurt. The Wolves hit 15 of 24 shots, including four three-pointers, and went 8 for 8 from the free-throw line to put together the highest scoring quarter against Houston this season.
“It was just like we were sitting there and we could never find any kind of rhythm defensively,” Houston coach Kevin McHale said. “We never got many consecutive stops, we never really dug in and got things.”
Rubio, Beasley and Love led the scoring barrage, with 32 points in the third on 10-for-12 shooting. Minnesota led 96-81 heading to the fourth, and the Rockets hardly challenged the rest of the way.
“It’s fun basketball when you’re that efficient,” Love said. “We got open shots, set good picks and we just did the little things that helped us have a big third quarter.”
Martin scored 29 points after missing two games with inflammation in his right heel. The Rockets lost for only the second time in 11 games.
“Just felt like one of those games when we were stuck in the mud,” McHale said.
Minnesota finished 28 of 31 from the free-throw line and dished out 18 assists. The Timberwolves have won six of nine to get within one game of .500, and they’re starting to get excited about the possibilities this season.
“We know we can go on big runs,” Love said. “It’s just the case of not getting down so much and not having to fight back from such a large deficit.”
Chase Budinger scored 13 for Houston, also outrebounded 40-34.
The Rockets beat Minnesota 107-92 a week ago in McHale’s first game back in his home state since he succeeded Adelman last June. The teams play again in Minneapolis on Saturday.
NOTES: The Timberwolves have five road wins, already matching their total in each of the previous two seasons. … Timberwolves G J.J. Barea (sprained left ankle) sat out for the 10th time in 11 games. … The Rockets had their streak of games with double-digit leads halted at 13. … Minnesota’s field-goal percentage (58 per cent) was a high for a Houston opponent this season.