After six mostly meandering periods at the Target Center in which the Rockets (65-17) suffered a double-digit loss in Game 3 on Saturday and held a one-point lead at halftime of Game 4 on Monday night, Houston finally unleashed the full-octane offense that powered them to the league's best record and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
They hung a 50 on the Timberwolves in the third period en route to a 119-100 victory that gave Houston a commanding 3-1 series lead. James Harden scored 15 of his 36 points in a 20-5 tear over the first 4:59 of the third quarter to break open the game and finished with 22 in that quarter. Chris Paul added 15 of his 25 in that quarter, when he hit all three of his 3-pointers.
It was just the second time in NBA playoff history a team scored 50 points in a quarter, with the Rockets finishing one point shy of the record established by the 1962 Los Angeles Lakers, who scored 51 in the fourth quarter of a 132-125 loss to the Detroit Pistons with a team led by Hall of Famers Jerry West and Elgin Baylor. The 30-point differential in the quarter also tied an NBA postseason record.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 22 points and 15 rebounds while Jimmy Butler added 19 and nine for Minnesota, whose defense finally failed on the perimeter after holding Houston to 31.5 percent shooting from 3-point range in the first three games. The Rockets hit 16 of 42 from deep and now have hit 57 treys to Minnesota's 36 in this series.
If the Timberwolves can snap a 13-game overall losing streak in Houston and beat the Rockets on the road for the first time since a 111-98 victory February 17, 2012, the series will return to the Target Center for Game 6 on Friday night.