Rockets rookie Josh Christopher enjoys career night versus Minnesota

On Sunday, the Minnesota Timberwolves looked like they would coast to an easy victory over the Houston Rockets. They led by as much as 27 points late into the third quarter, and with a 21-point lead to begin the fourth, they inserted most of their reserve players to finish the game.

The one thing that they didn’t factor in was that the Rockets had a reserve of their own who was not convinced that the game was over.

In the fourth quarter, rookie Josh Christopher helped Houston cut the deficit and get his team within eight points with 1:48 left. The Rockets would eventually lose the game, 139-132, but Christopher’s 19 points in the final period on his way to a career-high 30 points for the game helped Houston climb back to within striking distance.

Christopher became the first reserve to score 30-plus points off the bench since Austin Rivers scored 41 against Sacramento on Aug. 9, 2020.

With his point total matched by fellow rookie Jalen Green’s 31-point performance, they became the third teammates 20 or younger to score 30-plus points in the same game, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook did it twice with Oklahoma City.

“I love it when he is getting going and playing his game,” Green said postgame of Christopher. “He’s a great scorer, he’s a dog defensively. He’s going to come out and just play his heart out every game. So, seeing that, I was telling him after he hit those free throws, he was five points away from getting 30 points. So, yeah, I was super excited for him.”

Sunday’s game helped Christopher regain some of the confidence he had when he scored 20-plus points four times since the beginning of February. Even though he had double digits in a loss to the San Antonio Spurs nearly a week ago, he failed to reach that mark in back-to-back games against the Sacramento Kings, scoring a combined 10 points.

“Shots were just going in,” Christopher said about his performance against the Timberwolves. “The paint was open for me, and I am a good driver, so I was able to penetrate. I was in a really good rhythm.”

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