Photo by Troy Taormina/USA Today

Harden, Capela Lift Rockets To Game One Win

Harden scores 44 points and Capela scored 24 in 104-101 victory

April 16, 2018 - 12:52 am

HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610)- With 6:07 left to play Sunday night at Toyota Center, James Harden re-entered game one of the Rockets first round series against the Minnesota Timberwolves. They led by just one after squandering a double digit first half lead. 15 second later, the Rockets missed a layup, but he made up for it by intercepting a Taj Gibson and banking in a floater. Harden scored the Rockets next 11 points after that, leading them to a 104-101 win.

Harden finished with 44 points, 25 of those came in the game's final 18 minutes. He shot 15-of-26 from the field, 7-of-12 from behind the 3-point line, and 7-of-9 from the charity stripe as the Rockets won the opening game of a series for a third straight time. The 44-point night is the 5th 40-point playoff game of Harden's career.

On a night that saw the rest of Harden's teammates shoot a dreadful 3-of-25 from behind the 3-point line, the Rockets needed someone to step up, and that someone was Clint Capela, who finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds, most of that damage was done in the first half.

Behind Capela's quick start, the Rockets jumped out to a 17-6 lead. He had a 10-point, 5-rebound first quarter, helping the Rockets to a 27-21 lead after a quarter, and he finished the first half with 20 points, and nine rebounds as the Rockets went to the locker room leading by seven, but Minnesota, playing in its first playoff game in 14 years, battled back.

With the help of 3-point plays from Andrew Wiggins and Taj Gibson, followed up by Jummy Butler's 3-pointer, the Wolves scored the first nine points of the second half to take the lead, and with 7:47 left in the third quarter, Jeff Teague connected from long range to give the Wolves a 62-58 lead. Harden's 3-pointer with 4:41 left tied the game, and his 3-point play with 2.6 seconds gave the Rockets a 4-point lead heading to the fourth where Eric Gordon hit from three to make it a seven point game, but the Wolves answered with a 14-6 spurt to take the lead again only to see Gordon's turnaround flip the lead for the 12th and final of the night before Harden took the game over.

Minnesota did make one last gasp and after Chris Paul sixth turnover of the night had the ball with a chance to tie, but Butler missed a long 2-pointer in the corner, and while Wiggins chased down the rebound, he couldn't stay inbounds long enough to get a shot off.

Paul finished with 14 points on 5-of-14 shooting. His six turnovers matched a season-high.

In the first playoff game of his career, Wiggins led the Wolves with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting, while Derrick Rose scored 16 points and Jamal Crawford added 15.

Also playing in his first playoff game, Karl-Anthony Towns was held to eight points and 12 rebounds while shooting 3-of-9.

Game two is Wednesday night at Toyota Center.