The Rockets started slowly, but picked it up in the second half behind big games from Harden and Howard to beat the Timberwolves 113-101 in Mexico City.
After going 0-6 3PTM in the loss to Golden State, Trevor Ariza hit his first attempt for the game’s first points. Ariza mixed it up and also notched a few points getting to the basket on his way to 16 points in the game.
Kostas Papanikolaou provided an early spark off the bench with three quick assists, including two instances of what’s become his patented move – driving in and drawing in defenders then dropping it off to Dwight Howard for the dunk.
Howard was working in the post in the first half with 13 points on 5-9 FG and 3-3 FT. He also welcomed Minnesota’s rookie phenom Andrew Wiggins to the league with a monster block.
James Harden had his own first half rivalry going with Wiggins as the two exchanged buckets – Wiggins with a dunk and three, Harden with multiple step-backs. Harden won the first half with 14 points (compared to Wiggins’ 9) and a 4-point Houston lead at halftime.
Harden gave everyone a scare in the third when he came up limping after a layup attempt in the third. However, Harden would return and rack up four assists in the quarter as the Rockets built a double-digit lead.
Howard continued to dominate the paint, although he had a little trouble finishing a dunk off what would have been a Harden assist. Harden grabbed the miss and fed it right back to him for an alley oop as Howard had a double-double heading into the fourth.
The Rockets put the Timberwolves away in the fourth as the threes kept falling. With 13 total 3PTM, the Rockets now have at least 10 3PTM in all 8 games this season and nine straight dating back to last season, which is the longest active streak in the NBA and two games shy of the NBA record.
Harden finished with 21 points and 10 assists and Howard finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds, marking the fourth time this season that multiple Rockets have had double-doubles in the same game.
In addition, Tarik Black scored a career-high 10 points and grabbed five boards as he kept the post dominance going when Howard needed his breaks.
The Rockets return home for a showdown with the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday.