Harden Leads Rockets Past Cavaliers 112-104
CLEVELAND (AP) — James Harden scored 29 points, including 16 in the fourth quarter, and the Houston Rockets defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 112-104 on Saturday night.
Jeremy Lin added 20 points for Houston, which has won 11 of 14.
Kyrie Irving led Cleveland with 30 points, including 11 in the final period, but the Cavaliers fell short of winning two in a row for the second time this season.
Harden, who had four points in the first half, made 6 of 17 field-goal attempts, but was 14 of 15 at the line and had a career-high seven steals. He came into the game averaging 26.3 points and has topped the 20-point mark in each of his last 16 games.
Harden scored seven straight points for Houston during one key stretch in the final period. He made a foul shot and converted a three-point play to help Houston build a 91-86 lead. Then he made a 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down, making it 94-88 with 5:52 remaining. Harden lost control of his dribble at the top of the key, hurriedly retrieved the ball and hit the shot over Dion Waiters.
Harden added another 3-pointer with 3:58 left for a 100-92 lead.
Lin’s three-point play and Carlos Delfino’s 3-pointer helped Houston maintain the lead, but Irving kept Cleveland in the game with a pair of 3-pointers and a foul shot. Harden hit a jumper with 45.7 seconds left and added two free throws at the 29.6-second mark to make it 110-103.
The Rockets trailed by 18 in the second quarter of Friday night’s 115-101 victory at Milwaukee. They trailed by 10 in the first quarter against Cleveland, but managed to rally for another win.
Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao, the league’s leading rebounder, missed his ninth straight game with a bruised right knee.
Patrick Patterson scored 15 points for Houston while Marcus Morris and Greg Smith had 11 apiece. Smith also had 11 rebounds.
Alonzo Gee scored 18 points for Cleveland. Tristan Thompson added 14 points and 16 rebounds.
Irving, whose jump shot with one second left gave the Cavaliers a 106-104 win over Charlotte on Friday, brought the crowd to its feet in the first quarter when he spun around a defender while dribbling at midcourt and drove in for a layup.
Houston took its first lead midway through the second quarter on Harden’s layup. Irving’s three-point play gave the Cavaliers a 39-37 lead, but Lin, who scored all 14 of his first-half points in the quarter, hit two 3-pointers and a jumper to help Houston take a 54-50 lead at halftime. The Rockets hit six 3-pointers in the quarter.
Irving and Harden each scored nine points in the third quarter and the game was tied at 78 going into the final period.
Irving was 10 of 24 from the field. He had six assists and eight turnovers.
NOTES: Asked about rookie F Royce White’s status with the organization, Houston coach Kevin McHale said, “I have no idea.” White, the 16th overall pick in the June draft, has spent most of the season on the inactive list while he and the team figure out how to handle his anxiety disorder. He refused his assignment to Houston’s D-League affiliate last week. … The Rockets return home Tuesday to face the Lakers. … Cavaliers coach Byron Scott hopes Varejao will be able to practice Tuesday. “The last report was he went through his workout the other day and felt the best that he’s felt,” Scott said. … Cavs G Daniel Gibson (concussion) missed his fourth straight game.
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