Skip to main content

Wolves-Rockets: James Harden trying shake the stink from 2017 playoff meltdown

Harden laid an all-time egg in an elimination game last season.

The Wolves might be one of the most athletically gifted 8 seeds in NBA playoff history, but can they put it all together and challenge the 65-win Houston Rockets?

Game 1 starts at 8 p.m. Sunday on TNT, and while the Wolves are trying to make a name for themselves for the first time in nearly 14 years, the Rockets are trying to shake the stigma of being playoff chokers. 

Specifically, we're talking about the likely MVP, James Harden, and future Hall of Fame point guard, Chris Paul. 

Harden's numbers in the playoffs with Houston are sick: 27.3 points, 7.1 assists, and 5.6 rebounds. But his Houston teams have been bounced in the first round three times since 2013, and last year in the Western Conference semifinals he laid one of the all-time playoff eggs.

It was Game 6 in Houston against the Spurs, who were without Kawhi Leonard, who was out with an ankle injury. Harden might've been better off not showing up. He finished with 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting with 6 turnovers and 6 fouls, and never appeared interested in being there. 

Fox Sports' Dieter Kurtenbach wrote that it was the kind of performance that leaves a "stink that lingers." 

Paul, 32, has never reached the conference finals in his illustrious career. Nine trips to the playoffs, none of them going past the second round. 

History suggests Harden and Paul are bound to be bounced, but this is their first year playing together and even through growing pains they've led the Rockets on ridiculous winning streaks of 14, 17 and 11 games this season – and they cut through Minnesota like a hot knife through butter in four regular season games. 

One thing the Wolves have going for them on Sunday is that Rockets 3-point specialist Ryan Anderson is 50-50 to play with an injury, and lockdown defender Luc Mbah a Moute is already ruled out. 

Anderson was a quiet killer against the Wolves during the regular season, connecting on 12 threes in the four games (all of them in the first three meetings). 

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-08-11 at 2.49.44 PM

15,000 Minnesota nurses 'overwhelmingly' authorize strike

Overworked and underpaid, the Minnesota Nurses Association is ready to strike.

School dinners lunch

Minnesota to offer free school meals to 90,000 extra students

Gov. Tim Walz, who is facing re-election in November, announced the measure on Monday.


Minneapolis man dies from injuries days after motorcycle pileup

The 69-year-old died after four days at Regions Hospital.

Sebastion Wolbersen-O’Hara

Police: 15-year-old missing from home north of Twin Cities

Authorities say he may be headed to the metro.


Foundation, the building, the win

Identifying Value Plus Catalysts helps your financial strategy and foundation

boating minnesota lake

25-year-old Hopkins man drowns after falling off boat

The man reportedly fell from the boat while fishing with friends.

mayor frey city minneapolis live stream march 14 2022

What's in Mayor Jacob Frey's budget proposal?

Here's a breakdown of what the Minneapolis mayor is focusing on in 2023-24.

Low, Mimi Parker

Low cancels Europe shows due to Mimi Parker's cancer treatment

The Duluth band says the decision follows 'recent changes' in Parker's treatment.


Airball by Jimmy Butler ends Wolves' bid to win Game 1

Jimmy Butler's last shot wouldn't have tied the game.

Rockets admit they're not playing well against the Wolves

James Harden has made just 11 of his last 38 shots.

Wolves-Rockets to play Game 1 on Sunday

Houston averaged 122.8 points against the Wolves in the regular season.

Fantastic February finish a must for Wolves' playoff hopes

The final 20 games of the season are extremely difficult.

Wolves will 'fight fire with fire' in Game 3 against Rockets

Jeff Teague says they've spent too much time focusing on defense.

Wolves win in OT, end unbearable playoff drought

The last Wolves playoff game was May 31, 2004.

Wolves give Rockets a taste of their own medicine in Game 3 blowout

Minnesota looked like a completely different team in Game 3.

Wolves eliminated by Rockets, no Butler entire 4th quarter

Houston advances to play Utah or Oklahoma City in the next round.