for this game

Scola, Rockets hammer lowly Timberwolves

Jan 12, 2008 - 5:55 AM By Gene Duffey PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Rookie Luis Scola tied his season high with 22 points as the Houston Rockets began a five-game homestand by burying the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves, 113-82, on Friday night.

Houston posted its largest margin of victory ever vs. Minnesota even without the services of seven-time All-Star Tracy McGrady, who did not dress and is still sidelined by a bone bruise and tendinitis in his left knee.

Scola didn't even start the game, but Rockets coach Rick Adelman was able to rest his regulars quite a bit throughout the game.

Houston, which has won five straight for the first time since reeling off eight straight in the 2004-05 season, fell three points shy of its season high of 116 points in a December 22 win at Chicago.

"That was fun," Rockets point guard Rafer Alston said. "You always hope for a game like that once in a while."

Scola, the 6-9 rookie power forward from Argentina who has backed up Chuck Hayes, has more offensive skills than Hayes but commits too many questionable fouls.

However, he looked good in this one, shooting 7-of-10 from the field.

"We played a great team game," said Scola, who also had nine rebounds. "It's just getting to know each other better. We knew it was going to take some time."

"I'm just getting used to (the differences) between here and where I came from," he said. "I knew it was going to be tough. I never thought I would be a starter. No one promised me anything. I never demanded anything."

Minnesota, which entered the game with the league's worst record at 5-29, has lost nine of 10.

"We didn't show up tonight," Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman said. "Everybody exhausted themselves. They tried to score before they made any passes. We were either too nice or too scared is what it looked like to me."

"It's embarrassing how we are getting satisfied so quickly after one stupid victory," added guard Marko Jaric, referring to Minnesota beating Miami at home in its last game. "Games like this, there is nothing that comes out of it. You have to forget about it as soon as possible."

After the game was tied 2-2, the Rockets jumped to an 8-2 advantage behind two baskets by Luther Head. Houston quickly widened its lead to take a 31-18 at the end of the first quarter.

The Rockets led by 31 at halftime and at the start of the fourth quarter to hand the Timberwolves their second-worst loss this campaign. Minnesota was dismantled by 34 in a 110-76 defeat by the New Orleans Hornets on December 22.

"No team in this league likes to be down that far at halftime," Rockets coach Rick Adelman said of Minnesota. "I just wanted us to come out and play a solid third quarter. We didn't have to run them out of the building, just be solid."

"We didn't play our best in the third quarter, but were able to keep (the Timberwolves) at a distance," Alston said.

Also reaching season highs for the Rockets were rookie Carl Landry with 15 points and second-year pro Steve Novak with nine, all on threes.

"I haven't played like that since college," said Landry, who started 63 of 64 games in his career at Purdue. "I was running around out there like a chicken with its head cut off. Coach (Adelman) said, 'Settle down. Settle down.'"

Landry also grabbed 11 boards for his first career double-double for the Rockets, who shot 54 percent (44-of-82) from the field.

The Houston fans were even chanting Landry's name. He had played in only three previous games this year, a total of 17 minutes.

"It felt great," he added. "I hear them chant Yao Ming all the time. I just came out of college where I was 'the man' every day. People were chanting my name walking to class."

"Carl has the ability to play in this league," Adelman said. "He just hasn't had the time. He played well tonight all the way through."

The only negative Adelman could find in his team's play was Landry calling a timeout with 55 seconds left in the game.

"That's a fine," Adelman said.

Alston, who has played better with McGrady missing, contributed 11 points and five assists. He had been criticized in the past for his poor shooting from 3-point range.

"When I came into training camp, coach stressed me being more of a driver," Alston said.

Ryan Gomes tied his season high with 20 points and rookie Corey Brewer and Michael Doleac did post season highs of 16 and 12, respectively, for Minnesota, which shot 44 percent (34-of-78).

Reserve Craig Smith added 10 points for the Timberwolves, who were outrebounded, 52-34.

"We just want to forget about this game," Timberwolves forward Al Jefferson said. "There was no energy out there for us on offense or defense."

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