The Rockets scored 50 points in the third quarter of their 119-100 win Monday night, matching their total from the first half and falling one point shy of the NBA playoff record. The Los Angeles Lakers scored 51 points in the fourth quarter of a playoff loss to the Detroit Pistons on March 31, 1962.
"Everything just clicked," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said.
Houston stars James Harden and Chris Paul combined for 37 points in the quarter. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, that is the most points Harden and Paul have combined for in any quarter as teammates.
That was in stark contrast to Harden's rough start to Game 4. He was 0-of-7 from the floor in the first quarter, his most misses in a quarter without a made field goal, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
"For myself and Chris, we had the mentality to be aggressive, make or miss shots," said Harden, who finished with a game-high 36 points on 12-of-26 shooting as the top-seeded Rockets took a 3-1 series lead. "That's what we do. We shoot the basketball. Eventually, they'll start falling. That's what happened."
Harden single-handedly outscored the Timberwolves in the third quarter. Minnesota finished the quarter with 20 points, and the 30-point margin was the Timberwolves' most lopsided deficit in a quarter in the franchise's playoff history.
The Rockets shot 14-of-23 from the floor, 9-of-13 from 3-point range and 13-of-13 from the free throw line in the quarter.
"We just got hot," said Paul, who had 15 points on 4-of-6 shooting in the third quarter and 25 points on 9-of-17 shooting in the game. "Guys started making shots. We talked going into the game about being aggressive, and I think we all just tried to do that."
Houston, which led by one point at halftime, opened the second half with an 11-0 run as Harden and Paul combined for all the scoring. The Rockets led by double digits the rest of the game, putting the Timberwolves on the brink of elimination as the series returns to Houston.
"Obviously everybody will look at the 50 points that we scored in the quarter, but it was our defense," Paul said. "We finally started getting them to take tough shots, we were getting rebounds and we're tough in transition. You've got James coming downhill, myself and the way we've got the court spaced with shooters is big. That really turned it up for us."