Russell Westbrook scored a season-high 45 points and had 10 assists, and the Houston Rockets overcame another tough night from James Harden to rally past the Minnesota Timberwolves 131-124 on Friday night.
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.
Harden, who went 1 for 17 from 3-point range in a home loss to Oklahoma City on Monday night, was 3 of 13 overall and 0 for 6 from beyond the arc against Minnesota. He finished with a season-low 12 points. Harden also left the game for part of the third quarter, limping badly to the bench before returning in the fourth.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 30 points and 12 rebounds for Minnesota, which has lost eight straight. Andrew Wiggins scored 28 points for the Timberwolves.
Minnesota’s streak prompted some frustration after Wednesday’s 117-110 loss at Chicago, when coach Ryan Saunders said the team is simply not playing well. Saunders also challenged Wiggins at halftime of that game to be more productive.
The Wolves started strong while Houston was missing shots. Minnesota led by six in the opening quarter. The Rockets hit just two of their first 11 shots and Harden was 1 of 5. The Rockets also trailed in Minnesota in November before recovering for a 125-105 win.
Led by Westbrook, Houston led by as many as 13 on Friday, but the Wolves didn’t fade.
Minnesota cut the Rockets’ lead to 110-108 with 6 minutes remaining.
Houston had the finisher in Westbrook. He scored 15 points in the fourth quarter, including 11 after the Wolves closed within two.
Rockets: Houston scored 23 points off 17 Minnesota turnovers. ... The Rockets only had 10 turnovers, leading to 13 points for the Wolves. ... Danuel House started the second half in place of Ben McLemore and finished with eight points and five rebounds.
Timberwolves: Josh Okogie started in place of rookie Jarrett Culver, in part for matching up against Harden. Okogie finished with 17 points. ... Starting PG Shabazz Napier left the game late in the second quarter, limping off the court. He returned for the second half and had nine points, five rebounds and five assists. ... Minnesota outrebounded Houston 52-34. The Wolves grabbed 36 rebounds in the first half, tied for the second most all-time franchise history for a half. They had 36 in the first half against Memphis on April 12, 2008.
Rockets: At Denver on Sunday.
Timberwolves: Host Oklahoma City on Saturday.