Houston, Texas, USA: James Harden erupted in Houston in the fourth quarter, with an MVP worthy performance, Sunday, for 44 points, 4 rebounds and 8 assists as he helped the Houston Rockets beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-101 to take a 1-0 series lead in the NBA Playoffs series.
The Rockets swept the regular-season series 4-0, winning by an average of 15.8 points a game raising expectations that this might be another blowout early as the Rockets raced out to a 17-6 lead behind 10 early points from Clint Capela, who was also stellar tonight.
Clint Capela posted a first half double-double on his way to an NBA Playoffs career-high 24 points and 12 rebounds. Clint Capela had 20 points and 10 rebounds by halftime, feasting on feeds from Harden, who finished with eight assists.
Capela is the first player with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in either half of a playoff game since Kevin Durant on May 15, 2014.
Harden’s 44 points came on 15-of-26 shooting, including 7-of-12 from 3-point range,while the rest of the Rockets made only 3-of-25 3-point attempts. Harden also had two steals.
Harden’s Co-star, Chris Paul had a rather forgettable Rockets playoff debut at the Toyota Center, tonight, with more turnovers (six) than assists (four) finishing with only 14 points on 5-of-14 shooting.
Paul and Harden paired very well together during the regular season to power the Rockets to a franchise-record 65-win regular season to claim the top overall seed.
Houston kept All-Star big man Towns in check, limiting him to just eight points after he’d averaged 21.3 in leading the Wolves to their first playoff appearance since 2014. Andrew Wiggins scored 18 points to lead Minnesota.
The top-seeded Rockets had their hands full tonight, with the No. 8 Timberwolves on a night where Houston made just 10 of 37 3-pointers. Harden made 7 of 12 3-pointers, but Trevor Ariza, P.J. Tucker, Eric Gordon and Paul combined to make just 3 of their 22 tries.
Not exactly a very pretty win, but in the end, a win is a win.
Houston Rockets vs Minnesota Timberwolves Western Conference First Round Game 2 takes place 8.30 pm on Wednesday, April 18th, at the Toyota Center in Houston.