By: Isaiah Robinson
MINNESOTA— Russell Westbrook scored a season-high 45 and racked a double-double for the Houston Rockets to overcome another tough night from James Harden, and defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves 131-124 on Friday night.
In the past, when Harden had tough shooting slumps, the Rockets would work double overtime to survive their star player’s subpar performance.
Now with Westbrook on the team, Houston has someone to ease the shooting burdens that once plagued them.
Westbrook helped with a second-half comeback after Minnesota led by six points in the third quarter. He finished 16-of-27 shooting, was 13 of 13 from the free-throw line and added six rebounds.
Eric Gordon scored a season-high 27 points off the bench for Houston, which won its second straight game following a seasonlong four-game losing streak.
Harden, who went 1 for 17 from 3-point range in a home loss to Oklahoma City on Monday night, was 3 of 13 overall and 0 for 6 from the 3-point line against Minnesota. He finished with a season-low 12 points.
Harden also left the game for part of the third quarter, limping badly to the bench before returning in the fourth.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 30 points and 12 rebounds and Andrew Wiggins scored 28 points for the Timberwolves.
Minnesota has now lost eight straight games.
Minnesota’s streak created some frustration after Wednesday’s 117-110 loss at Chicago, when head coach Ryan Saunders said the team is not playing well. Saunders also challenged Wiggins at halftime to be more productive.
The Wolves started the game off strong, leading Houston by six in the opening quarter. The Rockets hit just two of their first 11 shots and Harden was 1 of 5.
Houston led by as many as 13 on Friday, but the Wolves didn’t not stop fighting.
Minnesota cut the Rockets’ lead to 110-108 with six minutes remaining, but Westbrook closed out the game, scoring 15 points in the fourth quarter, including 11 after the Wolves shortened the lead within two points.