Trail Blazers beat Rockets as Harden's 40-point streak ends
By ANNE M. PETERSON
AP Sports Writer
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Jusuf Nurkic had 25 points and 15 rebounds, and the Portland Trail Blazers snapped James Harden's 40-point streak and the Houston Rockets' six-game winning streak with a 110-101 victory on Saturday night.
Harden finished with 38 points, falling just short of his sixth straight game with 40 or more. He was 13 of 35 from the field, shooting 5 of 17 from 3-point range.
CJ McCollum added 24 points and Damian Lillard finished with 17 points and 12 assists for the Blazers, who have won three of their last four games.
Austin Rivers scored a season-high 21 points for Houston, while Clint Capela had 13 points and 21 rebounds.
Portland led by as many as 16 points in the third quarter, but Harden started to show some life after a surprisingly cold first half.
Gerald Green's dunk got Houston within 88-83 early in the fourth but Nurkic's layup pushed Portland's lead to 97-85 with just under 6 minutes left.
After Harden collected his fourth foul, McCollum hit a long jumper to put Portland up 101-90 with 3:10 left. Evan Turner's layup and free throw made it 106-95 and Moda Center fans started heading for the doors.
There was some controversy when Harden got three free throws on Turner's foul and he made all three to close the gap with 1:02 left. After Lillard made a free throw on the other end, Harden's step-back jumper got the Rockets within 107-101 with 34 seconds left - but it was a close as they could get.
Portland was the last team to hold Harden under 30. He had 29 in Houston's 111-104 home victory on Dec. 11. Maurice Harkless had some success guarding Harden, but he out with a sore left knee after Saturday night's loss to the Thunder and Turner started for the Blazers.
Portland surrendered the lead to Oklahoma City heading into the fourth quarter and came up short 111-109 despite a late rally.
Harden had a triple-double in a 135-134 overtime victory over Golden State on Thursday night. He had 44 points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists for his second straight 40-point triple-double and 11th of his career.
Rivers hit all four of his 3-point attempts to start the game and finished the first quarter with 14 points.
Neither team was able to make much of a move until the final two minutes of the half, when Portland went up 54-46 on Turner's layup. Nene was charged with a flagrant foul on Nurkic, who made one of the two free throws then added a basket. Lillard had a floater before time ran out and the Blazers went to the break with a 59-46 lead.
Harden was 0 for 8 from 3-point range in the opening half and had nine points. It was just the second time this season he failed to reach double digits in the first half.
Lillard's 3-pointer pushed Portland's lead to 77-61, but Harden answered with his own. Harden had 20 points in the third quarter but the Blazers led 86-77 going into the final period.
Rockets: It was the third and final meeting of the season between the two teams. They split the first two. ... Harden hit his first two 3-point attempts in the second half.
Trail Blazers: Nurkic has 20 double-doubles this season. ... It was the first time Portland has defeated the Rockets twice in a season since 2015-16. .. The win snapped a two-game losing streak to the Rockets in Portland.
Rockets: Host the Denver Nuggets on Monday.
Trail Blazers: Host the New York Knicks on Monday.
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