Los Angeles, United States—James Harden paced the Houston attack with a deft shooting touch, finishing with 32 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists Saturday (Sunday Philippine time) as the Rockets routed the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves 139-109.
Harden also nailed a stepback 3-pointer with 6:30 left in the second quarter to record his 20,000th career point, becoming the 45th player in NBA history to reach the milestone.
Harden recorded 11 turnovers but the Rockets were able to more than makeup for his ball-handling missteps.
He and Russell Westbrook – who posted 30 points, six rebounds and 10 assists – went a combined 19-of-23 from the free-throw line for the Rockets, who have won 21 of their past 25 meetings with the Timberwolves.
Meanwhile, Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler and Indiana Pacers guard T.J. Warren were fined $35,000 and $25,000 respectively by the NBA for an incident that had Butler circling the calendar for a rematch.
The punishments were imposed for a profanity-fueled altercation and aftermath from Miami’s 122-108 victory at Indiana on Wednesday.
After both men received technical fouls for a confrontation “in a hostile manner,” Warren committed an offensive foul on Butler with 6:22 remaining in the third quarter, a violation the league said it has upgraded to a Flagrant Foul One upon review.
The Rockets beat Minnesota despite playing without center Clint Capela (heel) and losing forward P.J. Tucker after he suffered a bruise early in the first quarter.
Isaiah Hartenstein, starting for Capela, also recorded a double-double of 17 points and 15 rebounds while adding five blocked shots.
Houston’s Ben McLemore, who replaced Danuel House in the starting lineup, and Eric Gordon combined for 30 points.
Josh Okogie paced seven Timberwolves in double figures with 16 points. Rookie Jarrett Culver added 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
The Rockets shot 51.6 percent overall and finished 18 of 45 on 3-pointers.