It took longer than expected, but James Harden became the 45th player in NBA history to reach 20,000 career points after a made step-back 3-pointer with 6:30 left in the second quarter. His latest career milestone was three of 18 points in the quarter en route to a 139-109 victory for the Houston Rockets over the Minnesota Timberwolves Saturday evening, inside the Toyota Center.
Harden, the league’s leading scorer averaging (37.9 ppg), finished the game with 32 points (8-17 FG, 6-11 3PT, 10-13 FT), to go along with 12 rebounds and eight assists in the win.
“That’s a blessing to do that on a very high level. Its something that you don’t take for granted. Growing up in L.A. being able to see him progress over the years. To me, It’s just a blessing to be able to see. As a friend, I’m truly happy for him.” - Westbrook
Unlike their previous game, it was a backcourt affair for the Rockets’ All-Star pairing. Russell Westbrook tallied his 14th straight game scoring 20 or more points, with 30 points, 10 assists and six rebounds on the night.
“I thought we did a good job. We started off a little slow, but I thought we picked it up as the game progressed. We stuck to our defensive principles, you know — made them shoot some tough shots.” - Westbrook
Minnesota held their biggest lead by three points early in the first quarter, but never took advantage of the Rockets’ sluggish start. Houston began the game shooting 1-for-6 from behind the arc, but finished on a blazing 17-for-39 (43.5%) from deep.
Eric Gordon led the charge for Houston’s 3-point shooting surge, by connecting on five of his 13 attempts from behind the arc for 17 points.
With Clint Capela out due to an injured heel, the Rockets took care of the paint due to the contributions of Isaiah Hartenstein. Making his second career start, Hartenstein registered his second-career double-double with 17 points and 15 rebounds, while giving his best Dikembe Mutombo impression with 5 blocks.
“There’s a lot of things Isaiah [Hartenstein] does that’s hard to teach, hard to coach — he just does it. Now, the biggest thing where he really has to improve is defensively, being smart. Tonight, he was keeping his hands up, not fouling, and got some blocked shots. The guy’s a player.” - D’Antoni
Josh Okogie led the Timberwolves with 16 points off the bench, while Gorgui Dieng added in 14 points and 6 rebounds in place for the injured Karl-Anthony Towns (knee, illness). Andrew Wiggins, the Timberwolves leading scorer (24.0 ppg), ended the game with 11 points shooting 3-for-13 (23%) from the floor, 1-for-7 (14.2%) from behind the arc in the loss.
“They’re a tough team to play. They have all the weapons, especially when they’re hitting shots. In the first quarter, they weren’t really hitting shots, but after that, they were making shots, making plays, so it was tough.” - Wiggins
Following the win, the Rockets will hit the road on Tuesday for a South West division matchup against the young and talented, Memphis Grizzlies. Tip-off is slated for 7 P.M. CT.