Butler hurt as Rockets beat Wolves for 11th straight win
HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden scored 31 points and the Houston Rockets won their 11th straight game with a 120-102 victory Friday night over the Minnesota Timberwolves, who lost All-Star Jimmy Butler to an apparent right knee injury.
Butler left the game late in the third quarter. After grabbing a rebound late in the third quarter, he pivoted and planted hard on his right foot before collapsing and grabbing his right knee. He was on the floor for at least three minutes before he was carried off the court by two teammates. He appeared to avoid putting weight on his right leg when heading to the locker room.
A Timberwolves official said during the fourth quarter that Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau would provide an update on Butler’s injury following the game.
Clint Capela had 25 points and 11 rebounds for Houston, getting his 10th double-double over the past 13 games. Chris Paul added 14 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.
The Rockets trailed for much of the first half before going ahead to maintain the NBA’s best record.
Andrew Wiggins led Minnesota with 21 points, and Jeff Teague and Karl-Anthony Towns both had 18 points. Towns added 13 rebounds.
The Rockets have won 11 straight at home against the Timberwolves and will go for a four-game season series sweep in Minnesota on March 18. In their previous three meetings, Houston overwhelmed Minnesota from beyond the arc, making 19.5 3-pointers per game. But whether it was rust or an improved defensive strategy from Minnesota, Houston was limited to just 14 of 38 3-pointers on Friday night.
The Rockets were without guard Eric Gordon, who was a game-time scratch with an illness. P.J. Tucker started in his place and had 11 points in 28 minutes.
Trevor Ariza, who missed the previous nine games before the All-Star break with a hamstring injury, was back in the starting rotation and scored 11 points in 26 minutes.
Minnesota went on a 22-8 run to build an early lead and led 32-26 at the end of the first quarter. Houston closed out the second quarter on a 9-2 run to hold a 55-54 lead at halftime.
The Timberwolves have lost four of their last six.
Timberwolves: After Butler fell to the floor, the play continued and ended with Taj Gibson committing a horse-collar-like takedown of Harden on a layup. Harden made the desperation heave and ensuing free throw to put the Rockets up 14. ... Towns and fellow 7-footer Cole Aldrich served as human crutches in escorting Butler to the locker room.
Rockets: With a steal in the third quarter, Paul passed Allen Iverson for 12th on the NBA’s career list with 1,984. Mookie Blaylock is 11th with 2,075 steals. ... In his second game with the Rockets, veteran small forward Joe Johnson had 10 points in 22 minutes.
Timberwolves: Host Chicago on Saturday night.
Rockets: Visit Denver on Sunday night.
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