CLOSE

SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports activities’ Sam Amick breaks down the Pelicans’ surprising sweep of the Path Blazers and the remainder of Saturday’s NBA playoff motion.
USA TODAY Sports activities

The NBA could have modified lately, what with the emergence of the three-point shot and all. However this a lot stays the similar: An MVP taking part in as much as his possible in playoff time generally is helping his group win.

That was once the James Harden tale on Monday evening.

The Houston big name entered Recreation four of this first-round collection towards Minnesota having a look not anything like the person who’s extensively anticipated to obtain the league’s most sensible particular person honor, having hit simply two of 18 pictures in a Recreation 2 win prior to lacking 12 of 21 pictures in a Recreation three loss that lower the Rockets’ collection result in 2-1. So when Harden overlooked his first seven pictures of Recreation four, and when the Timberwolves trailed by way of only one at halftime (50-49) on the Goal Middle, it was once sufficient to make you wonder whether the Western Convention’s most sensible seeded group was once really in hassle.

Alas, Harden got here again — in a large manner. And after 12 scintillating third-quarter mins that integrated Houston scoring a franchise playoff-record 50 issues whilst Harden (22 issues) outscored Minnesota all by way of himself (20 issues), the Rockets had been on their technique to a 119-100 win. 

Extra NBA

In keeping with Basketball-Reference.com, Houston is just the second team ever to score at least 50 points in a single postseason quarter. The 1961-62 Lakers team that included the likes Elgin Baylor and Jerry West was the other, although their effort came in a first-round Game 5 loss (they outscored Detroit 51-30 in the fourth quarter but still fell 132-125).

“We hit the switch, the switch that we’ve been trying to hit since the beginning of the playoffs,” Harden told TNT after finishing with 36 points on 12 for 26 shooting.

Maybe this was what Mike D’Antoni meant when he said his team hadn’t reached its full potential in months.

The Rockets coach shared his view on Sunday that his team wasn’t playing at its peak, saying it had been a “couple months” since he’d seen Harden & Co. at their collective best. Something tell us that D’Antoni will be happy with this latest performance.

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick on Twitter. 

Autoplay

Display Thumbnails

Display Captions

Remaining SlideNext Slide