MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — When James Harden went through shooting slumps in the past, the Houston Rockets would be hard-pressed to survive lackluster production from their star guard.
With Russell Westbrook, Houston has another player who can shoulder a huge scoring burden.
Westbrook scored a season-high 45 points and had 10 assists, and the Rockets overcame another tough night from Harden to rally past the Minnesota Timberwolves 131-124 yesterday.
Westbrook helped key a second-half comeback after Minnesota led by six points in the third quarter. He finished 16-of-27 shooting, was 13 of 13 from the free-throw line and added six rebounds. Eric Gordon scored a season-high 27 points off the bench for Houston, which won its second straight game following a season-long, four-game losing streak.
“That’s MVP Russ,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said.
Harden, who went 1 for 17 from three-point range in a home loss to Oklahoma City on Monday night, was three of 13 overall and zero for six from beyond the arc against Minnesota. He finished with a season-low 12 points. Harden also left the game in the third period after taking a knee from Karl-Anthony Towns to his thigh. He was limping badly but returned in the fourth.
Over his past five games, Harden is shooting 33 per cent from the field.
“Guys are playing well, and that’s what we need throughout the course of the year,” Harden said. “Russ got it going, Eric made some big-time shots. Austin (Rivers) played well. That’s what you need. Tonight was just a great team win for us.”
According to Stats, it was the second time in Harden’s career that he started a game and a teammate outscored him by at least 33 points. The other occasion was February 2, 2011, with the Thunder, when Kevin Durant had 43 points to Harden’s seven.