In Game 3, the Timberwolves had rebounded from two defeats on the road by matching the Rockets with 15 3-pointers, a startling development given that the Rockets led the league in that category during the regular season and the Timberwolves were last.
Minnesota wisely took another tack for Game 4, attacking the basket with plenty of success in the first half. Towns watched most of the first quarter from the bench after picking up his second foul less than three minutes into the game.
Derrick Rose, who finished with 17 points and 6 rebounds, was the catalyst off the bench, muscling in for layups on fast breaks and in half-court sets. Minnesota’s starting point guard, Jeff Teague, had only 2 points on 1-for-7 shooting while fighting through an injury to his right pinkie.
Harden did not make a basket until 5 minutes 57 seconds remained in the second quarter, when his 10-foot floater fell in to cut Minnesota’s lead to 39-37. He swished one of his signature step-back 3-pointers on the next possession, and Houston was back in front to sow the seeds for the staggering third quarter.
Just as in Game 2, the Rockets raced out of the gate after the half. Harden scored 17 of their first 20 points. The Wolves star Jimmy Butler, on the other hand, started forcing off-balance shots.
Butler, who finished with 19 points, and Andrew Wiggins, who had 14, combined to shoot 12 for 31 from the field for Minnesota.
When Gordon sank a 3-pointer at the end of the quarter, Houston had a 100-69 lead.
JAZZ 113, THUNDER 96 Donovan Mitchell scored 33 points, leading Utah past visiting Oklahoma City.
Joe Ingles scored 20 points, and Rudy Gobert added 16 points and 10 rebounds. Ricky Rubio chipped in 13 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds as Utah took a 3-1 series lead. Game 5 is on Wednesday night in Oklahoma City.
Paul George scored 32 points and Russell Westbrook added 23 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Thunder. Oklahoma City lost its third straight in the series after shooting just 39 percent from the field.
The Thunder established a 26-19 lead late in the first quarter when Carmelo Anthony capped a string of three straight Oklahoma City baskets with an alley-oop layup. They held onto the lead for much of the second quarter, but then Utah finally woke up on offense.
Starting with Gobert cutting to the rim for a dunk with 3 minutes 45 seconds left in the second quarter, the Jazz scored on 11 straight offensive possessions. Ingles fueled the surge by hitting three straight 3-pointers to put Utah in front by 58-52 before halftime.
Another Gobert dunk concluded the 20-3 run that extended over the second and third quarters and gave Utah a 67-52 lead. The Jazz led by as many as 21 points in the third quarter. Utah went up 87-68 when Mitchell drained a jumper and then, on the next possession, fed Ingles for a 3-pointer.
The game featured physical play and heated emotions. Both teams picked up two technical fouls before halftime, and Jae Crowder was ejected with a technical foul with 5:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.