Harden scores 39 points as Rockets beat Pelicans 122-116
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - James Harden scored 39 points, including 13 straight during a stretch of the fourth quarter, and the Houston Rockets beat the short-handed New Orleans Pelicans 122-116 Monday night.
Russell Westbrook had 26 points and Clint Capela added 11 points and 20 rebounds to help the Rockets to their fourth straight win.
JJ Redick had 24 points, Josh Hart scored 19, and Jrue Holiday added 18 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds for New Orleans, which played without leading-scorer Brandon Ingram due to a sore right knee.
The Rockets led 95-82 early in the fourth quarter on Westbrook's dunk, but the Pelicans pulled to 97-93 on a four-point play by Redick. Harden then took control with his scoring burst in a 2:10 span. He started the run by splitting defenders for driving layups on consecutive possessions and then made back-to-back 3-pointers, including one for a four-point play. By the time Harden made two free throws to end the run, Houston led 110-93 with 5:20 left.
Harden and Westbrook missing 14 of their first 16 attempts on 3-pointers, and finished a combined 4 for 19 from long range. But they did enough with mid-range jumpers and layups.
The Rockets built a 42-31 lead midway through the second quarter, but the Pelicans used an 18-9 run, with eight points coming from Hart, to trim the deficit to 51-49. Despite shooting just 4 for 19 from 3-point range, Houston led 58-52 at the half.
Harden struggled early from long range, missing his first four shots. The Pelicans stayed within striking distance on the strength of Redick's 3-point shooting (4 of 6) for 12 first-half points.
Holiday committed all six of his game-high turnovers in the first half.
Harden's first 3 of the game put Houston up 68-57, but New Orleans went on a 17-7 spurt, with seven points by E'Twaun Moore, to cut it to 75-74. The Rockets closed the quarter by outscoring the Pelicans 15-8 to lead 90-82 after three.
Rockets: After allowing 126.8 ppg and going 3-3 to start the season, the Rockets have won four straight and allowed just 105.5 ppg. ... Harden has averaged 40.6 in his last eight games.
Pelicans: G Lonzo Ball missed his second consecutive game with a right adductor strain. ... The Pelicans used their seventh starting lineup in the last 10 games. ... Coach Alvin Gentry gave the Rockets a free throw on a rare technical foul by picking up a wayward pass by P.J. Tucker before it rolled out of bounds.
Rockets: Host the LA Clippers on Wednesday night.
Pelicans: Host the LA Clippers on Thursday night.
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