NBA: Harden’s hot fourth quarter lifts Rockets
MINNEAPOLIS — James Harden scored 17 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter, and the Houston Rockets rallied to win their fifth straight, 87-84 over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
Harden’s drive to the basket gave Houston (16-12) an 85-84 lead with 39 seconds left. He drove again to make it a three-point lead with 11.7 seconds to go and scored 15 of the Rockets’ final 17 points.
Omer Asik added nine points and 17 rebounds for the Rockets, who edged the Wolves after beating their previous three opponents by at least 22 points.
Alexey Shved shot an airball on a 3-point attempt at the buzzer that could have tied it for the Timberwolves.
J.J. Barea scored 18 for Minnesota (13-13), and Shved added 16. Kevin Love had 12 rebounds, but scored just seven points on 3 of 14 shooting. He missed all seven of his 3-point attempts.
Minnesota has lost four of five, and has been beaten six times after starting the fourth quarter with a lead.
It was Rockets coach Kevin McHale’s first game back in his home state since his 23-year-old daughter, Sasha, died on Nov. 24 of complications from lupus.
The former Timberwolves executive, coach and television analyst dabbed his eyes with a towel as the Target Center crowd cheered after his name was called during pregame introductions.
The Wolves led 60-46 after going on a 25-6 run to close the first half and start the second.
Most of that spurt took place without Nikola Pekovic, who left early in the second quarter because of an illness and didn’t return until late in the third.
The Rockets cut the deficit to 64-61 after three quarters before Harden re-entered the game and calmly led the Rockets all the way back.
Asik pumped his fist and confidently nodded his head as he trotted back down the court after Harden dropped in his final basket.
With the Rockets up 85-84, Barea drove the lane, but was stripped by Carlos Delfino.
Harden scored on the ensuing possession.
Chandler Parsons had 12 points, and Delfino had 11.
McHale also was close with Michael Stephenson, a 42-year-old man who died of pneumonia last week and couldn’t walk or talk after being born with cerebral palsy.
Stephenson and McHale became friends in the early 2000s, and Stephenson appeared in the Timberwolves’ 2002-03 team photo.
The team held a moment of silence for Stephenson before the game.
NOTES: Rockets forward Chandler Parsons injured his left knee Tuesday in a win over the Bulls, but played more than 35 minutes on Wednesday. ... The announced attendance was 20,340, the third-largest crowd in Target Center history.