The Rockets stayed in striking distance of Minnesota through a sluggish first half in Game 5, then broke it open again in the third quarter to win their first-round series, four games to one. Houston now awaits the winner of the Oklahoma City vs. Utah series (Jazz lead, 3-2) in the second round, which begins next week.
James Harden (24/12) picked up the pace after a poor first half (5 points, 2-of-9 FG) in Wednesday’s Game 5, while Clint Capela (26/15) again won the interior battle with Karl-Anthony Towns as Houston took control with a 30-15 spurt in the third quarter, headlined by strong defense.
Our postgame Locked on Rockets recap examines all the key storylines, including Harden and Chris Paul (12/9) stepping up in the second half; the role of Capela in elevating Houston’s ceiling; key performances from role players including Eric Gordon (19 points, 3-of-7 on 3s), Trevor Ariza (16 points, 4-of-7 on 3s), and P.J. Tucker (16 points, 4-of-7 on 3s); and whether Oklahoma City or Utah is a preferable Round 2 opponent. Tune in: