Prior to facing the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday, the Houston Rockets weren't having a great month of March.
After starting 7-2 since they adopted their super-small-ball lineup, the Rockets lost four straight (all in March) and three of them were against teams with losing records - the New York Knicks, LA Clippers, Charlotte Hornets, and the Orlando Magic.
Against the Timberwolves, the Rockets All-Star duo came to play and carried them home after trailing by double digits early.
Westbrook & Harden star in win
Russell Westbrook and James Harden combined for 64 points (22-of-36 FG) and 14 assists, playing a pivotal role in the come-from-behind win.
Beard 2 Brodie pic.twitter.com/jjWbM7NaTI- Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) March 11, 2020
After one quarter, the Rockets were trailing 35-26. However, in the second period they outscored the visitors 26-21, led by Harden's 11 in the period.
En route to his 37-point night, the Beard passed 'The Iceman' George Gervin for 40th on the all-time scoring list. After this game, Harden has 20,723 points in 826 career games.
In the third quarter the Timberwolves made a run, but Westbrook ensured the Rockets would remain on the top at the end of the quarter. He top-scored with 10 in the period while assisting on Austin Rivers' buzzer-beater to end the quarter.
RIVERS AT THE BUZZER! 🚨 pic.twitter.com/uVNiNdiitC- Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) March 11, 2020
In the fourth, the Timberwolves kept the game competitive but the Rockets were carried by their All-Star duo that combined for 19 of the team's 34 points.
Without KAT, Russell shines but can't ice it
For the 12th straight game, the Minnesota Timberwolves suited up without their two-time All-Star big man in Karl-Anthony Towns. Through this stretch, their mid-season acquisition D'Angelo Russell and the team have only been able to record three wins.
After a few rough games, Russell was putting together a good performance in this one. In 34 minutes, he finished with 28 points (8-of-15 FG), six rebounds, five assists, and four steals but couldn't get his team over the line.
best lefty stepback in the game pic.twitter.com/1Em6fBXgRa- Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) March 11, 2020
Critical win for Rockets
The Rockets' four-game skid dropped them from real contention for the West's second seed to being the sixth seed even after this win.
As things stand after the games on Tuesday, the Rockets are just a game behind the fourth-seed Utah Jazz, while holding only a two-game lead to the seventh-seed Dallas Mavericks.
Among the teams the Rockets are competing with in the West playoff standings (Jazz, Thunder, Mavericks), they have the easiest remaining schedule.
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