March 19, 2018 / 2:02 AM / in 4 months

Harden, Rockets hold off Timberwolves

James Harden buried a 3-pointer inside the final minute, and the visiting Houston Rockets completed a season sweep of the Minnesota Timberwolves with a 129-120 win on Sunday at Target Center.

The Timberwolves roared back from a 25-point deficit, cutting the margin to 115-110 on a Karl-Anthony Towns dunk with just under four minutes remaining. Houston responded just in time, with Clint Capela corralling an offensive rebound before feeding Trevor Ariza for a corner 3-pointer.

Harden then delivered a floater in the lane plus a pair of free throws before his 3-pointer pushed the Houston lead to 125-116 with 58.8 seconds remaining. Harden, who tallied nine consecutive points for the Rockets after things grew tense, totaled 34 points and 12 assists.

When Chris Paul sank a trey with 10:09 left in the third quarter, the Rockets led 83-58. However, Nemanja Bjelica (15 points) and Derrick Rose (14 points) led a third-quarter revival for Minnesota, which continued to rally after Rockets reserve Gerald Green (12 points) was ejected early in the fourth. Minnesota rode a 19-6 rally into contention before Ariza restored order.

Towns paired 20 points with 18 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who have lost five of seven games. Jeff Teague (23 points, 11 assists) also recorded a double-double for Minnesota.

Paul had 18 points and nine assists, and Capela added 16 points, 12 boards and three blocks. Houston hit just 5 of 16 3-point attempts in the second half, but Ariza and Harden delivered when needed.

Two quick first-quarter scoring bursts enabled Houston to build its comfortable lead. P.J. Tucker drilled back-to-back corner treys to ignite a 10-0 run that lifted Houston to a 17-9 lead. After Minnesota responded with consecutive 3-pointers, the Rockets reeled off the next 12 points.

While Ryan Anderson capped that spurt with a 3-pointer, it was Green who suddenly erupted, following his transition dunk with a fast-break 3-pointer for a 10-point advantage. When Paul closed the first period with a difficult fade-away jumper at the buzzer, Houston led 38-23.

The Timberwolves didn’t offer anything resembling defensive resistance in the second quarter, and they trailed 77-56 at the break.

—Field Level Media

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