Harden and co-star Chris Paul both emphasized that the primary reason for the Rockets' Game 3 loss was an uncharacteristically poor defensive performance.
It may seem harsh, but guard James Harden didn't dispute the assessment, agreeing that the team hasn't been in rhythm for a while.
Harden carried the Rockets in Game 1 with a 44-point, eight-assist performance while Paul had an off game, scoring 14 points on 5-of-14 shooting and matching his career playoff high with six turnovers.
The Rockets waxed hot early in the opening frame, 28-27, led by Gerald Greens 6 points on two 3-pointers.More news: 'Crazy Rich Asians' Drops Dazzling First Trailer
For most of the regular season, the Rockets cruised, playing very few close games and easily securing the best record in the National Basketball Association. The Wolves made only 13 3-pointers in Games 1 and 2 combined. The Rockets are averaging 106 points per 100 possessions during the first-round series, a mediocre number. The Rockets gave up 121 points in game 3 and allowed the Timberwolves to shoot 50% from the field.
Minnesota dug itself a 2-0 series hole as they couldn't come up with the critical plays in Game 1 and couldn't buy a bucket in Game 2.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are back in this series.
James Harden led Houston with 29 points, seven assists and seven rebounds on 9-of-21 shooting, while Chris Paul totaled 17 points and six assists before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. Nonetheless, that is a lot of components to pull together for Minnesota, and if the Rockets regain their rhythm before the rest of the series, you can pretty much discount Minnesota's future playoff hopes all together.
Minnesota took Game 3 of the series but they aren't going to hit 15 threes in a game considering they were last in the league in threes per game in the regular season.