Clint Capela was a stabilizing force in the paint as the Houston Rockets extended their winning streak to 11 games with a 120-102 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday at Toyota Center.
Capela finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds and claimed his individual matchup with Minnesota All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns (18 points, 13 rebounds). The Rockets also received strong performances from guards James Harden (31 points, nine assists) and Chris Paul (14 points, 10 boards, eight assists) in improving to 3-0 against the Timberwolves this season.
Andrew Wiggins paced Minnesota with 21 points while Jeff Teague added 18 points, four assists and two steals. The Timberwolves limited the Rockets to just 14-of-38 shooting on 3-pointers but sent Houston to the free-throw line 30 times. The Rockets converted 26 of those attempts.
Houston appeared to claim control with a 13-5 push exiting the intermission, surging to a 78-68 lead when Capela followed a nifty pullup jumper from Joe Johnson with a second-chance basket. But the Timberwolves clawed back with consecutive baskets before the Rockets followed with an 11-0 run that included a significant loss for Minnesota at the 3:09 mark.
As Harden dashed down court and converted a circus shot through a Taj Gibson foul for an 82-68 lead, Minnesota All-Star guard Jimmy Butler sat on the opposite end of the floor clutching his right knee. Butler was carried to the locker room by teammates and did not return.
Butler finished with 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting over 25 minutes. Trevor Ariza scored 11 points for Houston in his first action after missing nine games with a left hamstring strain.
The Rockets survived their own poor perimeter shooting in the first half thanks to their proficiency at the line. Houston was just 6 for 21 from behind the arc prior to the intermission but, with Harden going 8 for 8, the Rockets were 13 of 16 from the charity stripe. Despite forcing just four turnovers and attempting 10 fewer field goals that the Timberwolves, the Rockets led 55-54 at the break when Harden helped spearhead a 9-2 run to close the half.
—Field Level Media