Houston Rockets

James Harden continues red-hot scoring tear, finishes with 49 to lead undermanned Houston Rockets to seventh-straight win

For the third straight game, the fourth time in the last five games and the seventh time in this young season, James Harden has scored more than 40 points.

In all of those seven games, irrespective of the opponent, injuries, home or away, the Rockets have won every game. This game in Minnesota was no different.

Harden does the heavy lifting

The Rockets were suiting up without key rotation players in Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon, Clint Capela and Danuel House Jr. and yet Houston coasted to their seventh straight win with a 20-point win in Minnesota.

Harden began taking over the game early, scoring 18 of the team's 31 points in the first quarter. He was up to 38 points after three quarters and eventually finished with 49 points (16-41 FG). His 41 field goal attempts were a career-high and the second-most in franchise history.

Playing 39 minutes, Harden also recorded six assists and five rebounds.

Here's a scary stat - Harden is scoring 40-plus and is second only to Wilt Chamberlain in terms of scoring totals and he hasn't even had it going from beyond the arc yet.

However, after each game, the numbers prove that Harden's efficiency seems to be improving.

Harden's scoring has been critical to the team's early success. He's averaging 43.0 points per game (including 6.5 made 3-pointers) on 88-of-196 (44.9%) shooting from the field in the Rockets' current seven-game win streak.

Next man up

Even with Harden's 38, the Timberwolves kept pretty close to three quarters.

That's when the Rockets opened it up, by outscoring them 32-20 in the final period. While the Beard did do a majority of the work, the Rockets might not have won the game without career games from two bench players, who stepped up and made the most of their opportunity.

Reserve guard Chris Clemons scored 19 points on 7-of-11 (63.6%) shooting from the field and 5-of-9 (55.6%) from beyond the arc. In his season-high and career-high 28 minutes, he also recorded two steals and was a +32.

Isaiah Hartenstein, a center off the bench, played a career-high 31 minutes and scored just six points but pulled down a career-high 16 rebounds, playing a critical role as the Rockets outrebounded the Timberwolves 47-41.

Karl-Anthony Towns was the best player for the hosts with 27 points, 15 rebounds, two steals and two blocks but the absence of two key players in Andrew Wiggins and Josh Okogie was definitely felt.

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