MINNEAPOLIS — James Harden scored 49 points on a whopping 41 shots from the field and the undermanned Houston Rockets won their seventh straight gamer, 125-105 over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night.
With Russell Westbrook resting, the Rockets needed Harden to shoulder an even bigger scoring load than usual. The 41 attempts are the most in his career, and the most in the NBA this season, surpassing the 37 Golden State’s D’Angelo Russell took in an overtime loss Nov. 8 in the same building in Minnesota.
Harden made 16 of the 41 shots, going 8 for 22 from 3-point range. He was 9 of 11 on free throws.
Ben McLemore scored 20 points. Undrafted rookie Chris Clemons scored a career-high 19 off the bench for the Rockets, who broke open the game with a 9-0 run in the fourth quarter. Austin Rivers also scored 19 points.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 27 points and 15 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who also were short-handed. Andrew Wiggins missed his second consecutive game for personal reasons.
Jake Layman made his first start of the season for Minnesota and scored a season-high 21 points. Robert Covington had 17 points.
Harden scored 18 of his 30 first-half points in the first quarter. It was his highest-scoring first quarter of the season. Harden took 17 of his team’s first 25 shots. He and the Rockets led by two at halftime despite trailing by as many as 11.
Rockets: In addition to Westbrook, the Rockets were without centre Clint Capela (concussion), guard Eric Gordon (right knee arthroscopy), guard Gerald Green (left cuneiform fracture) and forward Danuel House Jr. (sacral contusion). Isaiah Hartensetein had a career-high 16 rebounds. The Rockets have held double figure lead in 12 of 13 games this season.
Timberwolves: Guard Josh Okogie did not play because of left knee soreness. Guard Shabazz Napier (right hamstring strain) remained out.
Rockets: Host Portland on Monday night.
Timberwolves: At Utah on Monday night.