Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/26/12
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Houston Rockets proved this month that they can win games with loads of points and an up-and-down pace. On Wednesday night, Houston proved it can win a half-court game as well. James Harden made sure of that. Harden scored 17 of his game-high 30 points in the fourth quarter as the Rockets rallied for an 87-84 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. Minnesota led 76-70 midway through the fourth quarter, but Harden took over from there. Harden, who was acquired from Oklahoma City just prior to the regular season 15 of Houston's final 17 points against the Timberwolves. His drive to the basket with 37 seconds to play put the Rockets ahead for good, 85-84. After Houston's Carlos Delfino stripped Minnesota's J.J. Barea, Harden again drove to the basket, scored and stretched the lead to four. The victory was Houston's fifth in a row and sixth in seven games. It also allowed the Rockets to win both halves of a road/road back-to-back after winning at Chicago on Christmas. Houston, which won only four of its first 11 games this season, is now five games over .500 for the first time this season. The loss was Minnesota's fourth in the past five games and it drops the Timberwolves back to .500 on the season. Chandler Parsons added 12 points for the Rockets while Delfino finished with 11. Omer Asik scored nine points for Houston, but grabbed 17 rebounds. Barea came off of the bench to lead the Timberwolves with 18 points while Alexey Shved scored 16 points. Kevin Love, Minnesota's All-Star forward, struggled, going 3-for-14 from the floor while missing all seven of his 3-point attempts. Houston entered the game with the league's highest scoring offense and the Rockets had averaged 122 points per game in their past three games. Minnesota played much of the game without center Nikola Pekovic, who became ill during the game and went to the locker room in the second quarter. He returned to action late in the third quarter. After the two teams traded runs in the third quarter -- Minnesota had a 13-2 spurt before Houston answered with a 15-2 run -- the Timberwolves led 64-61 entering the fourth quarter. Minnesota led by as many as six in the fourth quarter before Harden went on his tear. Minnesota led 47-44 at halftime after closing the second quarter on a 12-4 run. The Timberwolves led largely because they defended and controlled the tempo in the first half. Houston entered the game with the league's highest scoring offense and the Rockets had averaged 122 points per game in their past three games. The Timberwolves, who got 23 bench points in the first half, did a good job taking care of the ball and, as a result, limited Houston's ability to score in transition. NOTES: Parsons played against Minnesota, one night after colliding with Chicago's Marco Belinelli and having his right knee swell up. Parsons' status was uncertain until he tested his knee before the game, but he was in Houston's starting lineup. ... Before the game, Minnesota got good news about two of its injured players. Love returned to the lineup after missing Sunday's loss at the Knicks because of an eye injury. In addition, guard Ricky Rubio was cleared to have his playing time increase. After being limited to 18 minutes per game in his first five games back from ACL surgery, Rubio was cleared to play more than 20 minutes against the Rockets. ... Wednesday's game was Houston's first at Minnesota since drafting Minneapolis native Royce White with the 16th pick in the 2012 draft. White is dealing with anxiety issues. He has not played this season and has not been with the team since early November. Houston coach Kevin McHale isn't sure when he might return. "He hasn't been around, I haven't seen him," McHale said. "As crazy as it sounds, you're just kind of going with the guys who are there."
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