Rockets outlast Wolves for triple overtime win
HOUSTON (AP) -- Aaron Brooks scored a career-high 43 points, Chuck Hayes grabbed a career-best 17 rebounds and the Houston Rockets beat Minnesota 120-114 in triple overtime on Wednesday night.
Al Jefferson pulled down a franchise-record 26 rebounds and scored 26 points for the Timberwolves, playing the team's first ever three-overtime game.
The Rockets led most of the way, but Corey Brewer swished a half-court shot as the buzzer sounded in regulation to tie it at 89 and force an unexpected overtime period.
Make that three.
Trevor Ariza scored 19 points and Shane Battier added 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Rockets, who beat the Timberwolves for the 10th straight time.
Ryan Gomes scored 18 points, Wayne Ellington added 17 and Brewer scored 14 for Minnesota.
The Rockets led by five early the first extra period, but the Timberwolves rallied and went ahead 98-96 on Ellington's 3-pointer. Brooks hit two free throws with 1:25 left to tie it again, and both teams missed potential winning shots in the last minute.
Jefferson hit a pair of free throws and a hook shot to give Minnesota a 102-98 lead early in the second overtime. Ariza hit a jumper from the wing, then converted a three-point play.
Ellington lost the ball at midcourt with 16.9 seconds left, Brooks' free throws put Houston up 105-102, but Ellington tied it again with a 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds left.
Brooks swished a 3-pointer in the first minute of the third extra period, but Hayes fouled out when he bumped Jefferson on a layup. Carl Landry's turnaround gave the Rockets a 110-107 lead before Jefferson answered again.
Ariza sank two free throws, Gomes was called for an offensive foul and Battier sank a 3-pointer from the corner with 1:55 left to give the Rockets a 115-109 lead. Houston hit enough free throws at the end to escape with its eighth straight home victory.
The Rockets seemed to have the victory in hand in the fourth quarter after Brooks' reverse layup with 46 seconds left put Houston up 87-82.
Jefferson scored inside and Brooks and Landry missed free throws in the final 10 seconds, allowing Minnesota a chance to tie. Out of a timeout, Brewer heaved a mid-court shot that swished in as the buzzer sounded.
The Rockets should've never let it come to that.
They seemed to be on their way to an easy night after a 17-0 run in the first quarter. The Rockets delivered 12 assists on 14 baskets in the quarter and built a 30-13 lead.
The Timberwolves cut the deficit to nine by halftime, then opened the second half with an 11-3 burst. The Rockets missed nine of their first 10 shots after the break, including all four from 3-point range.
Houston then scored on five consecutive possessions, capped by Battier's 3-pointer with 3:11 left in the quarter to push the lead back to 10.
But the Rockets missed their first six shots of the fourth quarter as Minnesota crept closer. Jefferson's hook shot with 8:43 left cut Houston's lead to 69-68 before Brooks hit a 3-pointer.
A few minutes later, Damien Wilkins sank a 3-pointer and Jefferson flipped in a short jumper to give Minnesota a 78-77 lead. Hayes scored in the lane and Brooks swished another 3-pointer with 3:51 remaining to put the Rockets back in front.
NOTES: The Rockets played the third triple-OT game in team history. ... Houston improved to 13-3 this season in games following a loss. ... Timberwolves C Ryan Hollins missed his fifth straight game with an upper respiratory infection. ... Minnesota's first-quarter point total matched a season low for a Houston opponent in any quarter this season. ... The Rockets recalled F Joey Dorsey from the developmental league on Wednesday. ... Former Rockets Dikembe Mutombo and Steve Francis watched the game in courtside seats.