James Harden posted his fourth 40-point triple-double on the season and the host Houston Rockets turned an early run into a 141-113 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday at Toyota Center.
Harden finished with 43 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists despite sitting out the fourth quarter. His 13th 40-point game this season set a franchise record and Harden nabbed his 10th rebound with 1:22 left in the third, corralling a 3-point miss by Cleveland forward Jalen Jones.
Harden converted all 11 of his free throws. All 10 of his rebounds came on the defensive end.
The Rockets overwhelmed the hapless Cavaliers from behind the arc, drilling 16 of 37 3s while carrying a 113-81 lead into the final period. Harden was 8 of 16 from deep while Austin Rivers, Gerald Green, P.J. Tucker, and Gary Clark nailed two treys apiece. Rivers posted 12 points; Rockets center Clint Capela had 19 points, four rebounds and two blocked shots in 30 minutes.
Cedi Osman paced Cleveland starters with 15 points while the backcourt of Alec Burks and Collin Sexton totaled 27 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. The Cavaliers suffered their 12th consecutive loss and, with the final period representing garbage time, allowed Houston to shoot a robust 56.1 percent through three quarters. Cleveland opened the game last in defensive efficiency; the Rockets finished 20 of 52 on 3-pointers.
The Cavaliers recorded the first two baskets of the game and led 7-5 after three-plus minutes before the Rockets started to pull away. Harden capped a 10-2 run with a 3-pointer and the Rockets later added three 3s in succession to build their lead to 28-13 at the 3:23 mark of the first quarter. Rivers and Green chipped in treys before the period ended, with Green beating the buzzer for a 42-22 advantage.
The rout continued unabated in the second quarter. Houston reserves labored for a spell opening the period before Harden re-entered the game and quickly drilled two 3-pointers, the latter coming with 6:47 left in the half for a 55-33 lead. Rivers fed Clark for a 3 during that sequence, and when Clark converted again from deep at the 5:10 mark, the Rockets led 60-35.
The Rockets led 77-49 at intermission, recording a season high in first-half points while reaching the 70-point plateau for the sixth time. Harden has scored at least 30 points in 15 consecutive games.
--Field Level Media