The Houston Rockets knew what they were getting when they traded for James Harden prior to the start of the season and so far the move has paid off tremendously.
Harden and the Rockets target their fifth straight win Wednesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center. Harden scored 26 points in a 120-97 blowout of the Chicago Bulls on Christmas Day and is fourth in the NBA with 25.7 ppg. He is averaging 29.6 ppg in his last nine.
Omer Asik registered 20 points and a game-best 18 rebounds, while Jeremy Lin finished with 20 points and 11 assists for the Rockets, who have won four in a row and six of their last seven games.
"Our guys are starting to feel better about the style we're playing," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "We just have to keep on improving. We're still a very young team and we have a lot of ways to improve and hopefully we will."
The Rockets opened a three-game road trip on a high note and will also visit San Antonio on the current trek. They are 4-7 away from Space City as opposed to an 11-5 home mark.
Houston has scored 100 or more points during the winning streak and is second in the league with 104.8 ppg. Oklahoma City leads the NBA with 105.1 ppg.
Meanwhile, the Timberwolves are in the midst of facing some high-level talent and will play two straight at the Target Center, where they have won five in a row and own an 8-3 record.
Minnesota suffered a 94-91 loss at New York the last time out on Sunday as Carmelo Anthony scored 19 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead basket with 1:13 remaining. Nikola Pekovic scored a team-high 21 points and ripped down 17 rebounds, while Alexey Shved added 18 points for the Timberwolves, who played without star forward Kevin Love due to an eye injury.
"I would've loved to have Kevin out there, especially for those last five minutes," Minnesota guard J.J. Barea said after the team's third loss in four tries since a four-game winning streak.
Love is questionable Wednesday and has missed two of the last five games. He is averaging 19.6 points and 13.9 rebounds this season.
The Wolves, who lost to Miami last Tuesday and defeated Oklahoma City two days later, will close out the quick homestand Saturday versus Phoenix.
Minnesota won three of four meetings with Houston a season ago, but has still lost 15 of the past 19 matchups between the teams. The Rockets are 10-3 in the last 13 trips to the Twin Cities.