EditorsNote: Added details on Westbrook's shooting in 4th graf; Noted visiting team in lede
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 visiting Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday at Toyota Center.
After Kawhi Leonard provided the Clippers an 86-85 lead with a fading jumper in the paint, Harden converted a driving layup and then drilled a 3-pointer as Houston reclaimed a 90-86 advantage. With just over 90 seconds to play, Harden nailed a dagger 3 for a 95-88 lead.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers was ejected immediately thereafter. Houston extended its winning streak to five games. Harden shot 7 of 13 on 3s, grabbed six boards and had seven assists.
Russell Westbrook added 17 points, despite 6-for-20 shooting, for the Rockets while center 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 6:52 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).
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 defense exclusively on Harden. That meant Leonard had the assignment.
Houston extended to a 36-19 lead on a Tucker 3 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 3s 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 offense through center Ivica Zubac to start the second half, the Rockets again hit a slump and opened the door for the Clippers to rally.
--Field Level Media