James Harden gave Houston a strong boost by scoring 22 of the team’s 50 points in the third quarter and the Rockets easily outscored the Minnesota Timberwolves 119-100 on Monday to take a 3-1 lead in their playoff series of the first round.
Chris Paul scored 15 of his 25 points in the Rockets’ formidable third inning, which turned a 50-49 advantage into the break in a beating by 31 points after his torrid 12-minute offense. The only team in the history of the NBA playoffs that has put more units in a period have been the Los Angeles Lakers, who scored 51 points in the fourth episode on March 31, 1962 and despite this they succumbed to the Detroit pistons.
Harden finished with 36 points, by putting 12 baskets in 26 attempts, Clint Capela added 14 points and 17 rebounds, Eric Gordon finally got back on track by making 18 points after leaving the bench and the Rockets easily recovered from a not very good start.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 22 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who were dominated on both sides of the court during the decisive third period and missed 14 shots on 21 attempts on several occasions that they had the ball and handled it nervously.
The Timberwolves rebounded from their two losses as visitors to equalize the Rockets with 15 triples in the third game, a surprising breakthrough if one takes into account that Houston led the league in that category during the regular season and Minnesota ranked last site.
Wisely, in the fourth game the Timberwolves decided to do the same and attacked relentlessly in the first half, with much success, while Towns saw most of the first period from the bench after they marked his second foul when the match had less than three minutes of having started.
Derrick Rose, who finished with 17 points and six rebounds, was the catalyst when he left the bench and scored multiple baskets in which he broke through with the body, both in quick starts and skirmishes in half court. Meanwhile, starting guard Jeff Teague only put two points with a basket in seven attempts in a game in which he played injured right-handed pinky.
The Wolves were leading 36-29, but even though the Rockets did not have good marksmanship, Minnesota needed a wider advantage. He had an effectiveness of 47.7% in field goals in the first half (21 of 44), but he could easily have improved it.
Trevor Ariza scored the first three triples the Rockets attempted, which then failed in 13 of his next 14 initiatives behind the goal. Harden did not put a basket until 5:57 left in the second period.