|5:00 PM PT6:00 PM MT7:00 PM CT8:00 PM ET1:00 GMT9:00 6:00 PM MST8:00 PM EST5:00 UAE (+1)02:0020:00 ET7:00 PM CT23:00 , November 16, 2019
Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota Attendance: 18,978
Rockets' Harden will need help against Wolves
No matter how Herculean his efforts, Rockets guard James Harden will require some help to steward Houston through the current compacted stretch of games with a roster ravaged by injuries.
While Harden produced 44 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four steals in a 111-102 victory over the visiting Indiana Pacers on Friday, the contributions of Ben McLemore and Tyson Chandler were critical.
If Houston aims to extend its winning streak to seven games Saturday when it opposes the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis, it will need more of the same. The need for Rockets role players to contribute will be even greater Saturday, as guard Russell Westbrook is expected to sit out in the second of consecutive games.
"The last couple games we've had a lot of guys out, and he's had to play big minutes," Harden said of McLemore, who scored a season-high 21 points on 6-of-13 shooting. "He's done an unbelievable job on both ends guarding his butt off and then obviously knocking down shots."
Houston played without guard Eric Gordon (right knee surgery) and forward Danuel House Jr. (back bruise) for a second consecutive game. Center Clint Capela is in concussion protocol after taking a blow to the head late in the Rockets' victory over the Clippers on Wednesday. He sat out Friday and won't play Saturday.
The Rockets plugged in McLemore and Chandler on Friday and got positive results.
Chandler produced a sneakily effective performance against Indiana: two points, six rebounds, one steal and one block. The 19-year veteran was a game-high plus-24 over a season-high 25 minutes, and with Capela sidelined indefinitely, Chandler suddenly becomes a lineup staple.
"Whatever it takes," Chandler said. "It's like that sometimes, teams go through that. It just builds the team up for the long run. But I'll be fit."
The long run isn't quite as pressing as the immediate future for the Rockets. Westbrook's absence will make an already shortened rotation even shorter and will stiffen the challenge for a team stretched to its limits.
"Find ways. Find ways," Harden said. "Tomorrow is going to be the same way. They're a really good team in Minnesota, and we've just got to find another way."
The Timberwolves, who had won three of four before falling to the visiting Washington Wizards 137-116 on Friday, will enter Saturday with a measure of roster uncertainty as well. Forward Andrew Wiggins, who entered the game as the team's leading scorer at 25.9 points per game, was unavailable against the Wizards (death in the family), and his status for the Rockets game remained up in the air.
Wiggins averaged 32 points, 5.8 rebounds and six assists during the four games prior to his absence, but the Timberwolves' issues against Washington weren't on the offensive end. Minnesota surrendered 76 points in the paint to the Wizards, a jarring number indicating a lack of defensive verve, a condition that could prove fatal against the high-scoring Rockets.
Back-to-backs provide a unique challenge on the schedule, especially with the Timberwolves needing to move past the carnage from Friday.
"We believe in what we're doing," Minnesota coach Ryan Saunders said. "I feel like we'll be able to bounce back (Saturday) and take care of the process of things.
"Great thing about the NBA is you have a quick opportunity to get this bad taste out of your mouth."
--Field Level Media
Updated November 16, 2019