HOUSTON: The Houston Rockets secured their third straight NBA post-season berth on Friday (Saturday in Manila) with a 120-110 victory over Minnesota.
Houston drained a season-high 20 three-point shots, led by James Harden’s six and Jason Terry’s five.
Harden led all scorers with 33 points, and chants of “MVP” rained down when he touched the ball as fans made their feelings known on his chances of winning the coveted NBA Most Valuable Player award.
“The guy has been there all season long,” Timberwolves veteran Chase Budinger said of Harden. “He hasn’t gotten hurt. He has had to carry them the whole season.”
Indeed, Harden’s efforts this season kept Houston afloat during the extended absence of star big man Dwight Howard.
Howard, playing his second game since missing 26 contests with swelling in his right knee, scored 18 points in 20 minutes on the floor.
The Timberwolves lost for the third time in four games despite 31 points from star rookie Andrew Wiggins.
Budinger added a season-high 23 points in the setback.
Trailing 90-80 going into the fourth quarter, Minnesota pulled within seven points with just over four minutes to play.
The Rockets responded with a 9-2 scoring run that put the game out of reach.