After winning 10 in a row before the All Star break, the Rockets opened the post-break portion of their schedule with a 120-102 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves Friday night at Toyota Center.
The win improves the Rockets to 45-13 on the season and keeps them in the top spot of the Western Conference standings.
James Harden led with Rockets with 31 points and nine assists. He shot just 8-of-24 from the field, 3-of-10 from behind the 3-point line, but made up for it by knocking down all 10 of his free throw attempts.
Houston scored the game’s first five points, but Minnesota countered with eight in a row and took a 32-27 lead into the second quarter, but with Harden on the bench, Jamal Crawford started the second period with a 21-footer to build the Wolves lead to seven, but the Rockets scored 12 straight points and regained the lead, and took a 55-54 lead into the locker room, but took control from that point.
Minnesota scored the first bucket of the second half thanks to Jeff Teague’s layup, but Clint Capela’s dunk and Harden’s triple made it a four-point game, and after Andrew Wiggins split a pair of free throws to make it 62-59 Rockets, the Rockets went on an 11-4 run to build their lead to double-digits, and built their advantage to as big as 17 before the quarter ended with the Rockets leading 88-75. Minnesota never drew closer than nine in the game’s final period.
Capela gave the Rockets 25 points and 11 rebounds, making 10-of-11 from the field. He has 10 double-doubles in his last 13 games.
Chris Paul chipped in 14 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists, while Trevor Ariza scored 11 in his return to the Rockets lineup after missing nine games with a strained left hamstring.
Andrew Wiggins led the Wolves with 21 points, while Karl-Anthony Towns and Jeff Teague added 18 as Minnesota falls to 36-26.
Jimmy Butler scored 10 points, but left the game with a right knee injury. He’ll undergo an MRI Saturday in Minneapolis.
The Rockets will look to run their win streak to 12 games when they visit the Denver Nuggets Sunday night.