Rockets have lift off in playoffs thanks to Harden haul against Timberwolves

Rockets have lift off in playoffs thanks to Harden haul against Timberwolves 

Houston Rockets guard James Harden (R) passes the ball against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the second half of the NBA Western Conference first round Playoffs basketball game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, USA, Apr. 15, 2018. EPA-EFE/LARRY W. SMITH

Houston, USA, Apr 15 (efe-epa).- James Harden scored 44 points as the Houston Rockets won their Western Conference first round playoff opener 104-101 against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Toyota Center in Houston on Sunday.

Clint N’Dumba-Capela added a double-double of 24 points and 12 rebounds, and Chris Paul also scored in double figures, putting up 14.

Harden, who shot 57.7 percent of his field goals, including seven of 12 three-pointers, added eight assists in a stand-out performance for the number one seed in the West.

«Credit to the team. We have guys who can shoot the ball and create space», Harden said in the postmatch press conference.

Minnesota, who were seeded eighth, lacked an outstanding star performer, but had five players shoot in double figures, although none of those managed to break the 20-point mark.

Andrew Wiggins tallied the most points for Minnesota with 18, while Derrick Rose put up 16. Jeff Teague and Jamal Crawford added 15 each, and Jimmy Butler scored 13.

Game Two of the best-of-seven series will be played at the Toyota Center on Wednesday.