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Harden scores 34 as Rockets beat Wolves 126-108

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Whenever the Minnesota Timberwolves threatened, the Houston Rockets had an answer.

It usually came from long range.

The Rockets hit 10 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 126-108 victory on Tuesday night, extending their winning streak to nine.

''I knew we were making our shots, but that fourth quarter, that's what we're capable of,'' said Rockets guard James Harden. ''I think it was a four-point game and we went on a 12-0. That's how fast it was.''

Harden had 34 points, 12 assists and six rebounds. Ryan Anderson scored 21 points off the bench as the Rockets (43-13) snapped Minnesota's 13-game home winning streak and pulled within a half-game of the Golden State Warriors for the best record in the NBA. Houston has won 16 of its last 18 games.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 35 points and 12 rebounds in Minnesota's first home loss since Dec. 16 against Phoenix. Jeff Teague added 25 points and eight assists, and Jamal Crawford came off the bench to score 11 points after starting 0 for 6 from the floor.

Minnesota led by as many as 13 in the first quarter before Houston went on a run to take a four-point halftime lead. Trailing by 11, the Rockets used a 15-3 run to take their first lead at 35-34.

Houston used 3-pointers to keep Minnesota at bay throughout the game and then to pull away late. Anderson scored 12 in the fourth quarter, all from 3-point range.

''He shoots it deep, so we have to understand that he shoots it deep,'' Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. ''He's probably three feet beyond the 3, so you have to close and have an awareness as to what we're doing.''

Anderson hit a pair of 3-pointers early in the period to push Houston's lead back to double digits and hit two more later in the quarter. Harden also connected three times from deep in the fourth. The Rockets as a team connected on 10-of-16 3-pointers in the fourth quarter alone.

''Tonight they played a big lineup so we wanted to take advantage of our switches and our mismatches, and we did that,'' Anderson said.

After turning the ball over four times in the first quarter, the Rockets had just two turnovers the rest of the way. That allowed Houston to get its offense in a rhythm in the second half, when it outscored Minnesota 72-58.

The Timberwolves trailed just 95-91, but Houston hit four straight 3-pointers to take a 107-91 lead in a span of just over two minutes.

Minnesota was just 6 of 23 from deep. Harden and Anderson each hit as many shots from behind the arc as the Wolves did as a team.

''It's very hard when they shoot 3s like that,'' Towns said. ''If they're hitting 3s and we're coming back with 2s, they get a one-point advantage and an up-and-down possession. When they got it rolling like that, it's very hard to stop them.''

Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins missed his first 12 field goal attempts. Wiggins entered Tuesday's game shooting 55.6 percent in his previous four games. He finished 2 for 14.

TIP-INS

Rockets: Brandan Wright did not play, one day after signing with Houston as a free agent. He played in 27 games for Memphis this season. ... The Rockets have won 16 of their last 18 meetings against Minnesota.

Timberwolves: Towns tallied his league-leading 50th double-double. ... Minnesota is now 16-2 at home this season against Western Conference opponents.

CHINESE NEW YEAR

The Rockets' jerseys Tuesday had the team's name written in Chinese characters on the front to celebrate Chinese New Year, which occurs this Friday.

TRIBUTE TO FLIP

On Thursday, Minnesota will hold Flip Saunders Night in memory of the team's former coach and president of basketball operations who died in October 2015. A banner honoring Saunders will be raised before the game against the Lakers.

UP NEXT

Rockets: Visit Sacramento on Wednesday.

Timberwolves: Host Lost Angeles Lakers on Thursday.

Copyright 2018 by AP. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of AP is strictly prohibited.

Key Players
J. Harden
13 SG
K. Towns
32 C
35.2 Min. Per Game 35.2
20.1 Pts. Per Game 20.1
2.3 Ast. Per Game 2.3
12.1 Reb. Per Game 12.1
44.9 Field Goal % 55.0
45.0 Three Point % 54.6
86.6 Free Throw % 85.5
  Defensive rebound by Chris Paul 0:10
  Jeff Teague missed jump shot 0:13
+ 1 James Harden made 2nd of 2 free throws 0:27
+ 1 James Harden made 1st of 2 free throws 0:27
  Personal foul on Cole Aldrich 0:27
  Personal foul on Karl-Anthony Towns 0:42
  Defensive rebound by Chris Paul 0:42
  Jeff Teague missed jump shot 0:44
+ 3 Luc Mbah a Moute made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by James Harden 0:51
+ 1 Taj Gibson made free throw 1:11
  Shooting foul on Gerald Green 1:11
Team Stats
Points 126 108
Field Goals 41-83 (49.4%) 40-84 (47.6%)
3-Pointers 22-47 (46.8%) 6-23 (26.1%)
Free Throws 22-29 (75.9%) 22-23 (95.7%)
Total Rebounds 46 48
Offensive 9 9
Defensive 28 31
Team 9 8
Assists 25 22
Steals 1 3
Blocks 4 4
Turnovers 6 8
Fouls 23 20
Technicals 1 1
34 PTS, 6 REB, 13 AST
35 PTS, 12 REB, 3 AST
1234T
away team logo Rockets 43-13 23313042126
home team logo Timberwolves 35-25 31193028108
Team Stats
away team logo Rockets 43-13 104.9 PPG 43 RPG 18.8 APG
home team logo Timberwolves 35-25 101.6 PPG 45.2 RPG 22.4 APG
Key Players
J. Harden SG 28.6 PPG 5.2 RPG 6.8 APG 41.0 FG%
K. Towns C 15.2 PPG 13.4 RPG 2.2 APG 46.7 FG%
Top Scorers
J. Harden SG 34 PTS 6 REB 13 AST
K. Towns C 35 PTS 12 REB 3 AST
49.4 FG% 47.6
46.8 3PT FG% 26.1
75.9 FT% 95.7
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
J. Harden 35 34 6 13 0 1 1 2 10/20 6/10 8/9 0 6 66 +11
C. Capela 25 14 12 1 0 1 0 3 5/7 0/0 4/6 3 9 29 -3
C. Paul 33 13 8 7 1 1 2 1 5/11 1/5 2/3 2 6 35 +22
P. Tucker 28 10 1 0 0 0 0 2 3/4 3/4 1/2 0 1 11 +14
L. Mbah a Moute 29 7 4 2 0 1 2 4 3/6 1/3 0/0 0 4 14 +15
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
J. Harden 35 34 6 13 0 1 1 2 10/20 6/10 8/9 0 6 66 +11
C. Capela 25 14 12 1 0 1 0 3 5/7 0/0 4/6 3 9 29 -3
C. Paul 33 13 8 7 1 1 2 1 5/11 1/5 2/3 2 6 35 +22
P. Tucker 28 10 1 0 0 0 0 2 3/4 3/4 1/2 0 1 11 +14
L. Mbah a Moute 29 7 4 2 0 1 2 4 3/6 1/3 0/0 0 4 14 +15
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
R. Anderson 26 21 4 1 0 0 0 1 7/12 6/10 1/2 2 2 27 +12
E. Gordon 30 13 0 1 0 0 0 3 3/10 3/9 4/4 0 0 15 +5
Nene 13 8 2 0 0 0 1 3 3/7 0/0 2/3 2 0 9 +8
G. Green 17 6 0 0 0 0 0 4 2/6 2/6 0/0 0 0 6 +6
B. Wright - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
R. Hunter - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Brown - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Onuaku - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Black - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Z. Qi - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Williams - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Ariza - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 236 126 37 25 1 4 6 23 41/83 22/47 22/29 9 28 212 +90
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
K. Towns 35 35 12 3 1 3 1 6 12/16 2/3 9/9 5 7 56 -4
J. Teague 38 25 5 8 0 0 1 2 10/15 2/3 3/3 0 5 45 -3
J. Butler 36 15 7 6 0 0 0 1 5/13 0/3 5/5 0 7 34 -9
T. Gibson 33 12 5 0 0 0 0 2 5/8 0/0 2/2 1 4 17 +4
A. Wiggins 40 7 3 0 1 1 1 3 2/14 0/5 3/4 1 2 11 -25
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
K. Towns 35 35 12 3 1 3 1 6 12/16 2/3 9/9 5 7 56 -4
J. Teague 38 25 5 8 0 0 1 2 10/15 2/3 3/3 0 5 45 -3
J. Butler 36 15 7 6 0 0 0 1 5/13 0/3 5/5 0 7 34 -9
T. Gibson 33 12 5 0 0 0 0 2 5/8 0/0 2/2 1 4 17 +4
A. Wiggins 40 7 3 0 1 1 1 3 2/14 0/5 3/4 1 2 11 -25
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
J. Crawford 19 11 1 1 1 0 2 0 5/13 1/6 0/0 0 1 13 -12
N. Bjelica 12 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 1/1 1/1 0/0 0 0 3 -10
A. Brooks 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 -2
C. Aldrich 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 -2
G. Dieng 11 0 5 2 0 0 3 4 0/1 0/0 0/0 2 3 6 -12
T. Jones 9 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0/3 0/2 0/0 0 2 6 -15
A. Brown - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Jefferson - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
S. Muhammad - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Georges-Hunt - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Patton - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 235 108 40 22 3 4 8 20 40/84 6/23 22/23 9 31 191 -90