HOUSTON -- The Houston Rockets wish they could get away from their habit of trailing early in games and needing big second-half rallies to pull them out.
As long as they have James Harden, it seems to be a working formula.
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Harden also grabbed seven rebounds and handed out eight assists for the Rockets, who rallied from a double-digit deficit to win for the 11th time this season.
The Rockets picked up their defense to rally this time, holding the Timberwolves to only 17 field goals after the break. Harden had 25 points in the second half as Houston outscored Minnesota 69-43.
"I kind of saw where we were all sluggish, especially in that first half," Harden said. "You just have to have that confidence to go out there and make plays and score the basketball, drop a couple passes off and work from there."
"Houston got very aggressive and they took over the game," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. "Houston obviously played much better in the second half."
But with a tougher schedule ahead, starting with Sunday's game against Golden State, the Rockets know they can't keep relying on second-half outbursts for victories.
"The first half was so frustrating, we can't afford to play like that," forward Chandler Parsons said. "We can't get down like that and fight back against many teams."
Houston started the game by making some history. The Rockets' first 3-pointer, hit by Parsons, was No. 705 on the season, tying the franchise record set by the 2006-07 team. Lin broke the mark two minutes later.
The Timberwolves, though, looked more like the sharpshooters on the floor at the start, shooting 59 percent (13 of 22) in the first quarter. Minnesota's frontline players went 7 for 9 from the field in the quarter and Alexey Shved sank a pull-up 3 off Houston's eighth turnover in the second for a 38-31 Minnesota lead.
"Normally, they frustrate me," Houston coach Kevin McHale said of his young team. "Tonight, they made me mad."
The league's highest-scoring team coming into the game, Houston mustered only 39 first-half points and trailed by 18. The Rockets had only 15 first-half field goals on eight assists. Minnesota, meanwhile, shot 55 percent from the field (22 of 40) in the half and scored 20 points off Houston's 15 first-half turnovers.
"We were relying on our offense so much in the first half that we weren't making shots," Harden said. "We weren't playing defense at all. We picked up our intensity and energy a little bit."
The Rockets trailed 61-46 early in the third quarter when McHale was whistled for a technical foul. Harden and Lin sank 3-pointers on Houston's next two possessions, and the Rockets started crawling back into it.
Parsons started the fourth quarter with a steal and a breakaway dunk, and Harden drove for another layup to draw Houston within two. Lin tied it at 82-all with a layup following a Minnesota turnover, and Carlos Delfino found Greg Smith cutting down the lane for a dunk to put the Rockets ahead.
Smith got free inside for a dunk and a layup, and Parsons put it away with a 3-pointer from the corner with 1:03 remaining.
The Rockets snapped a three-game losing streak to the Timberwolves at the Toyota Center and sent Minnesota to its 10th loss in 12 games.
|Jeremy Lin does his part in the Rockets comeback, scoring 24 points to help out star James Harden (not pictured). (USATSI)|
|Houston (36-30) «||22||17||35||34||108|
|MIN:J. Barea 19 Pts
MIN:M. Gelabale 7 Reb
MIN:R. Rubio 7 Ast
|HOU:J. Harden 37 Pts
HOU:O. Asik 11 Reb
HOU:J. Harden 8 Ast
|Players of the Game|
Majestic James Harden Rockets Logo Man T-Shirt - Black Shop Now!
|R. Rubio, PG||39||4-13||6-8||7||7||3||14|
|G. Stiemsma, C||32||6-7||0-0||5||1||4||12|
|M. Gelabale, SF||31||5-8||0-0||7||5||2||10|
|D. Williams, PF||31||7-14||3-4||4||1||3||19|
|L. Ridnour, PG||29||4-8||1-1||6||3||5||10|
|J. Barea, PG||27||8-12||1-1||2||3||2||19|
|D. Cunningham, SF||22||3-10||0-0||1||1||2||6|
|A. Shved, PG||19||2-7||3-4||3||4||1||8|
|C. Johnson, PF||11||0-2||2-2||1||0||3||2|
|A. Kirilenko, SF||Did Not Play|
|B. Roy, SG||Did Not Play|
|K. Love, PF||Did Not Play|
|N. Pekovic, C||Did Not Play|
|M. Lee, SG||Did Not Play|
|C. Budinger, SF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|J. Harden, SG||43||8-16||16-18||7||8||5||37|
|C. Parsons, SF||39||6-12||0-0||4||2||4||14|
|J. Lin, PG||39||8-15||5-6||1||8||2||24|
|D. Motiejunas, PF||25||2-6||0-0||2||3||1||4|
|O. Asik, C||23||3-7||0-0||11||0||2||6|
|C. Delfino, SG||29||3-9||2-2||10||2||1||9|
|G. Smith, PF||22||5-7||2-4||4||0||1||12|
|P. Beverley, PG||9||0-0||0-0||1||1||2||0|
|T. Robinson, PF||6||1-2||0-1||4||0||1||2|
|F. Garcia, SG||5||0-0||0-0||0||1||1||0|
|A. Brooks, PG||Did Not Play|
|J. Anderson, SG||Did Not Play|
|T. Jones, PF||Did Not Play|
|R. White, PF||Did Not Play|
|T. Ohlbrecht, C||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|