The Houston Rockets bounced back in a big way against the Minnesota Timberwolves thanks to efforts by some unexpected players.
It was a total team effort on Saturday as the Houston Rockets had eight players score eight or more points on the way to a 139-109 annihilation of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Behind a scorching 51.6 percent shooting, Houston led by as many as 41 points in the contest, winning all four individual quarters.
After shooting just 27.5 percent from the outside in Oklahoma City, James Harden and company shot 40 percent, going 18-for-45. Despite Clint Capela being out with a heel injury and P.J. Tucker having an injury scare two minutes into the game and missing the rest, the Rockets had plenty of firepower from just about everyone that received minutes.
On a night where Clutch City handed Minnesota its worst loss of the season, there were three individual performances by Rockets that deserve some attention, starting with someone who filled some big shoes in the starting lineup.
Looking at Isaiah Hartenstein‘s stat-line, it’s like Capela was never gone. Any time an individual has more blocks than the other team as a whole, that’s an impressive outing. Starting in place of a healing Capela, Hartenstein did just that, swatting five shots to Minnesota’s four in his 27 minutes. The 7-footer played a huge part in the Rockets’ 58-44 rebounding advantage as well, pulling down 15.
Hartenstein also shot a very Capelaesque 8-of-9 from the field, scoring an efficient 17 points on the night. Isaiah’s impact on the game was felt on both ends of the floor, as indicated by the game-leading plus-39 the Rockets enjoyed while he was on the court.
After sitting out against the Thunder, Eric Gordon returned to his sharpshooting self in front of the Toyota Center crowd. Gordon knocked down 5-of-13 shots from beyond-the-arc and even pitched in three rebounds. E-Money’s accuracy was vital in clearing space for the likes of Russell Westbrook and Harden, who are two of the best in the NBA at creating plays off of inside penetration.
Since Gordon is shooting at the worst 3-point shooting percentage he’s shot since 2011-12 (31.4 percent), seeing nights where he lights it up from downtown like Saturday is especially encouraging. His five made threes tied a season-high for the guard, who’s still trying to get back to 100 percent following knee surgery.
With how Splash Gordon has shot the ball throughout his whole career, there’s no reason to doubt he will continue to have sharpshooting nights highlighted by deep threes. More importantly, Eric has been able to play 25-plus minutes in recent outings, which is a good sign going forward.
For the second straight game, Russell Westbrook eclipsed the 30-point mark, scoring 30 against the Wolves after a 34-point game against OKC. As usual, Russ was all over the court on Saturday — pushing the pace, getting to the line and creating open looks for teammates. His 10 assists were a game-high and his game-high 23 shot attempts show just how aggressive he was.
The Brodie shot 50 percent from inside the 3-point line, as his 1-of-5 showing from the outside was the only negative from his game overall. After his performance against Minnesota, Russell has now scored 20 or more points in 14 consecutive games.
While a tough game against Chris Paul and the Thunder again raised the question of who really won in the blockbuster offseason trade, Westbrook is continuing to look like he’s still well in his prime, capable of taking over games at a moment’s notice.