HOUSTON -- Delivering commentary that ran contrary to his offense-only reputation, Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni expressed concern over a substandard defensive performance that was buried under another avalanche of 3-pointers. James Harden paced a balanced scoring attack that featured eight double-digit scorers as the Houston Rockets set an NBA record for 3-pointers while outgunning the Minnesota Timberwolves 142-130 on Saturday night at Toyota Center. Harden paired 24 points with 10 assists as the Rockets (42-18) finished 22 of 58 from behind the arc. It marked their eighth game this season with at least 20 3-pointers, breaking the mark set by the Golden State Warriors in 2015-16. Harden shot 5 of 11 on treys. Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon hit four 3s each while posting 18 and 14 points, respectively. Trevor Ariza added three 3-pointers and 15 points. Lou Williams and Nene chipped in 17 and 11 points off the bench. But the Timberwolves (23-36) shot 52.1 percent from the floor, posted a 58-31 rebounding advantage, including 21 offensive boards converted into 29 second-chance points, and sliced through the Rockets' defense with enough ease that D'Antoni focused on that end of the court than the ridiculous offensive output. "We can't fall into that, 'Oh we'll score, we'll be OK.' No, we won't be OK," D'Antoni said. "We've done that before. We can't do that." The Rockets' collective effort offset monster performances from Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (37 points plus a career-high 22 rebounds) and forward Andrew Wiggins (30 points and three steals). Minnesota trailed by as many as 20 points but never relented, cutting the deficit to 127-119 with 2:32 left before Harden, Patrick Beverley and Ariza totaled four 3s that sealed the victory. "There's nothing we can do. They just run down the court shooting the ball," Wiggins said. "You shoot 58 (3-pointers) and you're bound to make 20 of them. They just put it up." Despite the wire-to-wire victory, the Rockets labored throughout, fending off the Timberwolves. Houston grabbed a double-digit lead almost instantly at 14-4 on a Clint Capela (16 points, nine rebounds) layup at the 7:21 mark of the first only for Minnesota to initiate the first of a series of surges that kept it in contention. Behind its second unit, Minnesota pulled to within 41-40 with 8:41 left in the first half before Houston responded with a 16-0 run that included successive 3-pointers by four different Rockets: Sam Dekker, Gordon, Williams and Beverley. "That's what they do," Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. "There is a shift in scoring going up. The teams that win big in the playoffs play strong on both sides of the ball. I think Houston is obviously an elite team and has had a terrific season." When the Timberwolves clawed within 73-70 in the third quarter, Harden, who scored three points on 1-for-9 shooting prior to the intermission, came alive with 15 points in the period as Houston extended to a 105-86 lead on a Harden trey. The Rockets scored 40 points on 12-of-20 shooting in the third quarter, including 7 of 13 from long range. And while the Timberwolves proved game, the Rockets scored at will and with such ease that their defense could be overlooked. "You can nitpick. A win is tough in the NBA so we're happy with the win," Anderson said. "Obviously, we don't want to give up 130 points. I know (defensive coordinator) coach (Jeff) Bzdelik is going to love that tomorrow. I'm sure we'll watch a lot of film about it." NOTES: Rockets G Patrick Beverley was initially announced as a pregame scratch by coach Mike D'Antoni but later declared himself fit to play. Beverley is dealing with left groin tightness yet finished with 15 points, seven assists and three steals in 30 minutes. ... Timberwolves F Andrew Wiggins scored 30 points and set a franchise record with his 17th consecutive 20-point game. Wiggins shared the mark with F Kevin Garnett, a 10-time All-Star with the Timberwolves. ... Minnesota committed a season-high 25 turnovers.
Rockets make 20-plus 3s for record eighth time
The Sports Xchange | Feb 26