The Rockets' center Clint Capela had 24 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks, and was a dominant force down low all game. Unfortunately, Game 2 didn't turn out like the previous contest on Sunday and the Houston Rockets cruised to a 20-point victory, dismissing any doubts that this was even going to be close.
Minnesota, dominated by the Rockets during the four-game season series, led 86-85 on two free throws from Jamal Crawford (15 points) with 6:49 remaining.
Harden finished 15 of 26 from the floor, 7 of 12 from behind the arc, to counter poor shooting from the trio of Chris Paul, Eric Gordon and Trevor Ariza, who were a combined 9 of 30.
That's when Harden, who had seven points and three assists in the first quarter, came alive. Throughout much of the game, Minnesota refused to take the ball away from Harden's hand by not double teaming.
The Timberwolves can't try to suddenly shoot 3-pointers to keep pace with the Rockets, because that's not their style. Towns drawing more attention will also allow for more opportunities for guard Jimmy Butler and forward Andrew Wiggins to make plays of their own, and get the team's offense running in full gear.
Minnesota played worse than they did in Game 1 and although James Harden struggled, the Rockets played far better and grinded hard for the win.
Having said all of that, this isn't the Harden of old.
After romping through the regular season to 65 wins and the No. 1 seed in the league, the Houston Rockets didn't look anywhere close to their best in Game 1 against the eighth-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Cavs never had a lead in this game thanks to a heroic effort from Victor Oladipo, who scored 32 points.
Game 2 will be the deciding factor in how the rest of the series will play out.