HOUSTON (REUTERS) – James Harden poured in a game-high 47 points and served as the closer down the stretch of the Houston Rockets’ 102-93 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday (Nov 13).
After Kawhi Leonard provided the Clippers an 86-85 lead with a fading jumper in the paint, Harden converted a driving lay-up and then drilled a three-pointer as Houston reclaimed a 90-86 advantage. With just over 90 seconds to play, Harden nailed a dagger three for a 95-88 lead.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers was ejected immediately thereafter. Houston extended their winning streak to five games in the National Basketball Association. Harden shot seven of 13 on threes, grabbed six boards and had seven assists.
Russell Westbrook added 17 points for the Rockets while centre Clint Capela posted his third consecutive 20-rebound game, pairing 12 points with 20 boards before departing after a collision with Clippers forward JaMychal Green late in the fourth quarter.
Leonard, who gave the Clippers their first lead at 84-80 with a four-point play at the 6min 52sec mark of the fourth, paced the Clippers with 26 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Lou Williams chipped in 20 points off the bench and Green delivered a double-double (14 points, 14 boards) at the Toyota Centre.
The Rockets’ fast start, bolstered by 14 paint points in their 31-point first period, fizzled quickly in the second. With Westbrook benched after accumulating four fouls in the first quarter, the Clippers focused their defence exclusively on Harden. That meant Leonard had the assignment.
Houston extended their lead to 36-19 on a Tucker three-pointer early in the second period, added a Capela alley-oop roughly two minutes later and then went five minutes without a point.
Leonard and Williams pulled the Clippers to within 38-33 before the Rockets found some juice, with Tucker and Harden burying three treys before Harden added a floater with 16 seconds remaining.
The Rockets led 49-37 at the intermission, their points surrendered the fewest in any half this season. But when the Clippers started running their offence through centre Ivica Zubac to start the second half, the Rockets again hit a slump and opened the door for the Clippers to rally.
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