HOUSTON -- James Harden became the 45th player in NBA history to score 20,000 career points as the Houston Rockets rolled to a 139-109 victory over the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday, Jan. 11.
Harden drilled a stepback 3-pointer with 6:30 remaining in the first half to reach the milestone and finished with 32 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. Harden also recorded 11 turnovers, all in the first half, but his wayward ballhandling did little to stem the offensive onslaught.
Houston has won 21 of its last 25 meetings with the Timberwolves, including 13 straight at home. The Rockets blistered Minnesota despite playing without center Clint Capela (heel) and losing forward P.J. Tucker to a stinger early in the first quarter. Their shooting paced the attack.
The Rockets shot 51.6 percent overall and finished 18 of 45 on 3-pointers. Harden recovered from a 1-for-6 start to finish 8 of 17 overall and 6 for 11 from behind the arc. He and Russell Westbrook, who posted 30 points, six rebounds and 10 assists, went a combined 19 of 23 from the free-throw line. Isaiah Hartenstein, starting for Capela, also recorded a double-double of 17 points and 15 rebounds while adding five blocked shots.
Houston's Ben McLemore, who replaced Danuel House Jr. in the starting lineup, and Eric Gordon combined for 30 points. Gordon drilled five 3s coming off the Houston bench.
The Timberwolves were without center Karl-Anthony Towns for a 13th consecutive game. Josh Okogie paced seven Timberwolves in double figures with 16 points. Rookie Jarrett Culver added 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Minnesota led 20-19 late in the first quarter before Westbrook sank a 3 to spark the first of several Houston runs. The Rockets extended to a 45-27 lead on a Hartenstein three-point play midway through the second period to cap a 26-7 surge. After the Timberwolves closed the deficit to 10 late in the first half, Harden nailed back-to-back 3s to carry Houston into the break with a 57-41 lead.
Andrew Wiggins pulled Minnesota within 71-54 with just under eight minutes left in the third and just before Houston landed the knockout blow with an 18-2 run capped by Harden and Gordon 3s. The Rockets led by as many as 41 points.