Russell Westbrook pushes Rockets past Timberwolves
MINNEAPOLIS - James Harden was missing, first shots and then a stretch of the game when he was forced to the locker room.
The Rockets, however, still had his running mate, with Russell Westbrook giving them his best offensive game of the season on a night they would need every bit of it.
With Westbrook and Eric Gordon each getting their top scoring games of the season, the Rockets surged through the final four minutes to top the Timberwolves, 131-124, Friday.
The Rockets found a way to make up for the offense they were not getting from the league's leading scorer, but as he limped to the locker room, they seemed to have an injury issue to add to their recent slide.
Harden, who had taken a Karl-Anthony Towns knee to a thigh, returned. His shot did not.
Westbrook, however, had made up for the scoring Harden had not provided through most of the night. Gordon for the second consecutive game had his top-scoring performance of the season, hitting 6 of 13 3s to score 27 points.
All that was left to do was for Westbrook to hit the Wolves with one more scoring blast.
Westbrook scored 15 of his season-high 45 points in the final eight minutes, adding assists to set up a Gordon 3-pointer and a Clint Capela dunk.
Harden made just 3 of 13 shots, scoring a season-low 12 points. But the Rockets had enough to outscore the 58 points the Wolves got from Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
After topping the Timberwolves by an average of 25 points in the first two meetings, there was a stretch in which the Rockets seemed on their way to another rout.
After a sluggish offensive start, the Rockets had clicked long enough to expect to have much more to show for the first half than a 63-60 lead, even with Harden's shooting slump limiting him to just six first-half points.
Even when the Rockets turned a six-point deficit to a 13-point lead, however, their defense was largely about collecting the rebounds of missed Timberwolves 3s. Eventually, the Wolves seemed certain to find shots they could put down regularly. With nothing but good looks in the final five minutes, save one possession when P.J. Tucker drew a charge on Wiggins, the Timberwolves scored 15 points in the final five minutes of the half.
When the Wolves kept on scoring to start the second half, with the Rockets offense initially limited only to whatever Westbrook could provide, the Wolves finished climbing out of their first-half hole and with an 11-0 run, took a six-point lead.
With Harden out, however, the Rockets found other sources of scoring. They still were not getting stops often, even with Towns going out for a stretch a few minutes after Harden. But Gordon and Austin Rivers filled much of the void, rebuilding a double-digit lead.
That did not seem built to last. The Wolves were scoring too easily for that. The Rockets were missing too much from the scorer they count on. But they had enough star power still left for one final surge.
Lizzo just accepted an invite to dance with the Houston Rockets after she was criticized for twerking at a Lakers game!
Tri-Cities Sports - Your Source for Local Sports!!
Though on opposite sides of the James Harden trap defenses, the Rockets' Mike D'Antoni and Nuggets' Michael Malone described the tactic the same way. Both said the strategy is a compliment to Harden. And both said teams will try something else if the ...
The illness that forced Rockets center Clint Capela to miss Wednesday's game against the Heat not only also kept him out Saturday against the Hawks, but also spread to Danuel House Jr. Both have been considered day-to-day, but Rockets coach Mike ...
SACRAMENTO, CALIF. – The NBA will likely take Thursday's matchup between the Timberwolves and Kings, put in a vault and just let it collect dust for generations upon generations, never to see the light of day again. Two teams with losing records, each ...
More News in sport
In a league where shortening the length of the season is a regular discussion topic, games in January are often downplayed as just one of 82. And yet, neither coach Friday inside AmericanAirlines Arena attempted to
Buddy Hield scored 21 points on 7-for-12 shooting off the bench, and the Sacramento Kings pulled away for a 98-81 win over the host Chicago Bulls on Friday night. Harrison Barnes added 19 points
Belinda Bencic lost to Anett Kontaveit, seeded 22 places below her, in 49 minutes in the third round of Australian Open. Updated: January 25, 2020, 9:18 AM IST Belinda Bencic (Photo Credit: Reuters) Melbourne: Sixth seed
Ante Rebic was once again the match-winning hero as Milan beat Brescia 1-0 at Stadio Mario Rigamonti to make it three Serie A wins in a row and climb up to sixth place. The Croatia international
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Russell Westbrook scored a season-high 45 points and had 10 assists, and the Houston Rockets overcame another tough night from James Harden to rally past the Minnesota Timberwolves 131-124 on Friday night. Westbrook