Harden scores 44 points, Rockets beat Wolves 104-101
/ Rockets

By AP

HOUSTON (AP) Trailing by 1 in the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Houston Rockets needed someone to step up.

No surprise that it was James Harden who came through.

Harden scored 44 points and powered a big fourth-quarter run that allowed the Rockets to outlast the Timberwolves 104-101 Sunday night in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series.

”We were struggling to make shots, struggling to really have any kind of rhythm and James put us on his back,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. ”He’s been doing it for a while now.”

Minnesota scored four straight points to get within 3 with about 30 seconds left. Chris Paul added two free throws after that for Houston, but a tip-in by Karl-Anthony Towns got Minnesota back within 3. After a bad pass by Paul gave the Timberwolves a chance to tie it with 1.5 seconds left, Jimmy Butler’s shot was short.

”Came up short,” Butler said. ”But I’d shoot it again if I had the opportunity.”

The Timberwolves had a one-point lead with about seven minutes left when Houston used a 9-0 run, with the last seven points from Harden, to make it 94-86 with about four minutes to go. Harden, who also had a steal in that span, capped the run with a 3-pointer that prompted Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau to call a...



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