Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) dribbles in the second quarter against Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins (22) in game four of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Target Center. Rockets point guards James Harden and Chris Paul capitalized on weak moments, leading their team to a major win on the road.
Veteran forwards Trevor Ariza (16 points, 4 of 7 from deep) and P.J. Tucker (playoff career-high 15 points, 5 of 7 from the field, after scoring 16 points combined in the first four games) got in on the fun, too, as did reigning Sixth Man of the Year Eric Gordon (series-high 19 points).
The Wolves led Houston 59-55 at the half before Houston outscored Minnesota 30-15 in the third frame, the final nail in Minnesota's coffin.
Harden scored 15 of his 24 points in the third quarter and added 12 assists on the night.
Houston will now play the victor of the Utah-Oklahoma City series, which the Jazz now lead 3-2.
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Karl-Anthony Towns led the Timberwolves with 23 points and 14 rebounds, and Jamal Crawford added 20 points off the bench.
"How many points did they score in the third?" And though they struggled at times shooting the ball, the Rockets could rely on their vastly improved defense to keep themselves in games before the offense eventually arrived.
Their adapted strategy when it came to guarding Harden (not exactly as revolutionary as Reggie Miller made it sound on the TNT broadcast, but still effective early) involved waiting to send a second defender at the eventual league MVP until the shot clock ticked below seven seconds.
They didn't duplicate the 50-point third quarter that carried them to a Game 4 win in Minnesota, the second-highest scoring quarter in National Basketball Association playoff history.
Asked what his team needs to have in order to extend the series beyond Game 5, Minnesota head coach Tom Thibodeau said that it's more about the mindset of his players, per Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. "We had a great thing going, and it got away from us again in the third". The Sixers, however, have the cap space and the apparent foundation to compete in the immediate as they are close to dispatching the Heat in the first round and could very well land in the conference finals after a second round series with Boston or Milwaukee. Minnesota even went up by 10 points midway through the second quarter on Derrick Rose's second 3-pointer of the game.
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Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said of Capela's performance, "Well tonight, I thought it was incredible". OK, so you got two less rebounds, still, we can play well.
Heading into the locker rooms for halftime Monday night, things were pretty tight between the Timberwolves and the Rockets. He didn't play in Game 1, played three minutes in Game 2 and hasn't played since.
HOUSTON - The Timberwolves first playoff series since 2004 played out much like their regular season.
"We hadn't been there in like 14 years so it was experience that needed to be garnered and we wanted to take that next step", he said.
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