Houston Rockets v Minnesota Timberwolves

James Harden, Rockets enter history books with third-quarter explosion against Timberwolves

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Rockets guard James Harden (Getty Images)

Their vaunted offense only sporadically effective against the Timberwolves through three-plus contests, the Rockets finally achieved orbit in the third quarter of Monday's Game 4 with 50 points.

Yup, you read that correctly: The Rockets blasted off for 50 points in just 12 minutes, more than any of their previous 1,118 playoff quarters, an NBA postseason record for the third period and only one fewer than the overall mark of 51, set by the Lakers all the way back in 1962.

Most points in one quarter, NBA playoffs

  • 51 - Lakers vs. Detroit, 1962 (4th)
  • 50 - Rockets vs. Timberwolves, 2018 (3rd)
  • 49 - Cavaliers vs. Warriors, 2017 (1st); Warriors vs. Spurs, 1991 (4th); Lakers vs. Warriors, 1987 (3rd)

The record for any quarter is 58, set by the Buffalo Braves in 1972.

By matching their first-half total in the third, the Rockets outscored the Timberwolves by 30, finished the quarter up by 31 and cruised to a 119-100 victory to lead 3-1 in the series.

"We hit the switch, the switch we've been trying to hit from the beginning of the playoffs," said James Harden, who shook off an 0-for-7 start to score 22 points in the period, finishing with 36 points in 33 minutes. "It's scary what we're capable of. Great quarter for us."

Harden's 22 points in the third quarter set a new Rockets record for most points in a quarter in a playoff game. Additionally, his outburst marked the most points scored in a single quarter of a playoff game in the entire NBA since Stephen Curry had 22 points in the third quarter of Game 1 of the 2013 Western Conference semifinals.

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