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NBA Preview from The Sports Network

Friday, March 20th (All times eastern)

Minnesota Timberwolves (20-48) at Houston Rockets (45-25), 8:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Houston Rockets are within striking distance of the top spot in the Southwest Division and will close out a brief two-game homestand Friday versus the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves at the Toyota Center.

The Rockets are currently 1 1/2 games behind the San Antonio Spurs in the division and have won two straight games, including Wednesday's 106-101 double-overtime triumph versus the Detroit Pistons in the opener of the homestand. Yao Ming scored 31 points, pulled down 15 rebounds and blocked four shots to lead the Rockets.

Ron Artest scored 26 points and Aaron Brooks netted 14 points in the second extra session for Houston, which is third in the tightly-packed Western Conference standings and 28-8 as the host this season. The Rockets have won six of their last eight games overall.

Meanwhile, the Wolves will try to salvage the finale of a three-game road trip Friday and have lost five straight as the visitor. Minnesota fell to 10-23 away from home this season after a 94-93 loss at New Orleans on Wednesday, as rookie Kevin Love led the way with 23 points and 11 boards.

Ryan Gomes provided 17 points, while Rodney Carney had 12 in defeat. Wolves guard Randy Foye had 11 points and missed a last-second shot that would have won the game.

The Rockets are 3-0 against Minnesota this season and have won seven straight in the series. Minnesota has lost five straight after winning its last four at the Toyota Center.

03/20 10:39:32 ET

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