For the third straight game, the fourth time in the last five games and the seventh time in this young season, James Harden has scored more than 40 points.
In all of those seven games, irrespective of the opponent, injuries, home or away, the Rockets have won every game. This game in Minnesota was no different.
Harden does the heavy lifting
The Rockets were suiting up without key rotation players in Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon, Clint Capela and Danuel House Jr. and yet Houston coasted to their seventh straight win with a 20-point win in Minnesota.
Harden began taking over the game early, scoring 18 of the team's 31 points in the first quarter. He was up to 38 points after three quarters and eventually finished with 49 points (16-41 FG). His 41 field goal attempts were a career-high and the second-most in franchise history.
Playing 39 minutes, Harden also recorded six assists and five rebounds.
James Harden is averaging 39.5 PPG after tonight's 49-point performance. The only other player in @NBAHistory to average 39.0+ points per game through the first 13 games in a season was Wilt Chamberlain (48.4 in 1961-62), (53.5 in 1962-63) twice. pic.twitter.com/y2OVOJgyAr- NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) November 17, 2019
Here's a scary stat - Harden is scoring 40-plus and is second only to Wilt Chamberlain in terms of scoring totals and he hasn't even had it going from beyond the arc yet.
Through 13 games, James Harden's scoring numbers:- Shane Young (@YoungNBA) November 17, 2019
513 points (39.5 per game)
2PT: 77/146 (52.7%)
3PT: 63/190 (33.2%)
FT's: 170/193 (88.1%)
True Shooting: 61.6%
He's averaging nearly 40 points and hasn't consistently scorched the Earth from three yet. It's remarkable
However, after each game, the numbers prove that Harden's efficiency seems to be improving.
Harden this week averaged 44.8 points on 45.8 percent shooting, 40 percent 3-point shooting with 5.8 rpg, 6.8 apg, 2.3 spg as Rockets went 4-0.- Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) November 17, 2019
Harden's scoring has been critical to the team's early success. He's averaging 43.0 points per game (including 6.5 made 3-pointers) on 88-of-196 (44.9%) shooting from the field in the Rockets' current seven-game win streak.
Next man up
Even with Harden's 38, the Timberwolves kept pretty close to three quarters.
That's when the Rockets opened it up, by outscoring them 32-20 in the final period. While the Beard did do a majority of the work, the Rockets might not have won the game without career games from two bench players, who stepped up and made the most of their opportunity.
Reserve guard Chris Clemons scored 19 points on 7-of-11 (63.6%) shooting from the field and 5-of-9 (55.6%) from beyond the arc. In his season-high and career-high 28 minutes, he also recorded two steals and was a +32.
Isaiah Hartenstein, a center off the bench, played a career-high 31 minutes and scored just six points but pulled down a career-high 16 rebounds, playing a critical role as the Rockets outrebounded the Timberwolves 47-41.
Karl-Anthony Towns was the best player for the hosts with 27 points, 15 rebounds, two steals and two blocks but the absence of two key players in Andrew Wiggins and Josh Okogie was definitely felt.