When the Timberwolves took an 86-85 lead with 6:49 left in the fourth, Harden scored 11-straight points with a series of dizzying step-back threes that the Timberwolves could do nothing to stop.
Let's not worry right now about what the Timberwolves would have to do to make a run past the first round. In total, he tallied 24 points and 12 boards, dominating the center matchup against Karl-Anthony Towns, who finished with just eight points to go with 12 rebounds.
The Rockets possess a bevy of players with long playoff resumes, while two of the Wolves' best players in Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns will experience the playoffs for the very first time. They are the overwhelming favorites going into the first round of the playoffs.
The Rockets were dominant in the regular season and won a franchise-high 65 games to finish top of the pile in the Western Conference.
Minnesota will have to try to slow down an extremely fast Rockets team, who averaged 112.4 points per game this season, just second in the National Basketball Association to Golden State.
Jeff Teague ended Minnesota's scoring drought with two free throws after the timeout and added a 3-point play after a basket by Harden. Minnesota got monster minutes from Derrick Rose. He got off to a great start, and it continued all game long, as he finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds.
Minnesota won their final three games of the season to make the playoffs, capped by the victor moves on, loser goes home contest with the Nuggets.
If the Timberwolves are going to upset the Rockets, they will likely need a big series from Butler.
What can be said about the Houston Rockets that hasn't already been written about? Last season, the Wolves would have been tied for the sixth spot with 47 wins. Eric Gordon is putting up 18 points per contest while Clint Capela averages 13.9 points plus 10.8 rebounds a night.
Tonight's late Rockets vs Timberwolves game will be televised exclusively on the TNT cable TV channel. Minnesota's defense has struggled this year, and unless they pick it up, they could be swept by the NBA's most electric offensive team.