Harden, Rockets blow by Pacers

HOUSTON — James Harden and the Rockets were determined to make up for their most lopsided loss of the season when they got a second shot at Indiana on Friday night.

Not only did Houston do that, but it handed the Eastern Conference-leading Pacers their biggest defeat in the process.

Harden had 28 points and the Rockets used a huge third quarter to turn a close game into a blowout in a 112-86 win over the Pacers.

Harden scored 16 in Houston's 38-point third quarter, which turned a three-point lead into a 29-point advantage. He also got into a dustup with Evan Turner that resulted in both players receiving technical fouls.

Dwight Howard and Harden went to the bench for the fourth period and watched their teammates wrap up Houston's fourth consecutive win.

Indiana won by 33 the first time the teams met on Dec. 20 in Indianapolis.

"That's all we talked about," Howard said. "Every timeout and every possession. We wanted to get payback. It was good for us to come out (Friday) and stay on them for four quarters."

David West had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers, losers of three straight for the first time this season.

"We're just putting the emphasis on trying to get better," Indiana center Roy Hibbert said. "Since the All-Star break we haven't been playing the best basketball. We've been playing awful."

But Pacers coach Frank Vogel isn't too concerned about his team despite the skid.

"Every team I've ever been a part of has had a stretch like we're in right now," he said. "And since I've been here we've always worked our way out of it, so I'm sure we will. It stinks right now. It's not fun right now, but we've got a good team and we'll regroup."

Howard finished with 15 points and seven rebounds. Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin added 11 points apiece for the Rockets.

The Pacers shot 6 of 18 in the third quarter with four turnovers and managed just 16 points — matching Harden's total.

Paul George, who finished with 13 points, scored two quick buckets to start the second half and get the Pacers to 50-47. The Rockets scored the next nine points as part of a 16-2 run that pushed the lead to 66-49. Howard sailed high above the rim to grab a pass from Parsons, who threw it over a leaping Hibbert, and finished with a two-handed dunk.

Terrence Jones starting things off with a 3-pointer before Howard and Harden combined for the rest of the scoring in that run.

Celtics 91, Nets 84

At Boston, Rajon Rondo scored 20 points and the Boston Celtics dominated the boards to beat Brooklyn and stop the Nets' four-game winning streak.

Boston scored the first five points and never trailed, although Brooklyn used an 11-point run to cut the lead to 70-68 with 2:02 left in the third quarter. But the Celtics came back to take a 78-70 lead entering the final quarter and led by at least seven the rest of the way.

Bobcats 101, Cavaliers 92

At Charlotte, N.C., Al Jefferson scored 28 points, Kemba Walker had 20 points and 14 assists, and Charlotte defeated Cleveland for its sixth straight win at home.

Jefferson shot 12 of 18 from the field and reached 20 points for the 22nd time in his last 24 games. Chris Douglas-Roberts added 14 points, including four 3-pointers, and a season-high nine rebounds for Charlotte (29-33), which surpassed its win total from the previous two seasons combined.

Grizzlies 85, Bulls 77

At Chicago, Marc Gasol had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Memphis used its stout defense to defeat Chicago.

Mike Miller made four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points as the Grizzlies closed out a three-game road trip with their third victory in four games. Zach Randolph added 10 points and 11 rebounds after missing Memphis' previous game with the flu.

Warriors 111, Hawks 97

At Oakland, Calif., David Lee had 18 points and six rebounds, reserve Jermaine O'Neal added 17 points and eight rebounds, and Golden State returned home to beat Atlanta for its third straight win.

Andre Iguodala and Stephen Curry each scored 13 to help the Warriors build a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter. Golden State, fresh off a 4-2 road trip, is 8-2 since the All-Star break.

Timberwolves 114, Pistons 101

At Minneapolis, Kevin Love had 28 points, 14 rebounds and five assists, and Minnesota outlasted Detroit.

Kevin Martin scored 24 points and Ricky Rubio added 11 points, nine assists and eight rebounds for the Timberwolves, who are trying to mount a push for the Western Conference playoffs.

Raptors 99, Kings 87

At Toronto, Terrence Ross scored 18 points to lead the Raptors over Sacramento, spoiling Rudy Gay's return to Toronto.

Gay had 15 points for the Kings, who acquired him in a seven-player deal on Dec. 9. The game marked his first trip back since he was shipped with Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy to the Kings for Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson, John Salmons and Chuck Hayes.

Knicks 108, Jazz 81

At New York, Carmelo Anthony scored 18 of his 29 points in the first quarter, sending New York to a rare easy night against Utah.

Anthony added a season-high eight assists while playing just three quarters of a game that wasn't competitive for long after the opening tip. J.R. Smith had 17 points and Tyson Chandler finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Knicks, who led by as many as 32.

Pelicans 112, Bucks 104

At New Orleans, Anthony Davis had 29 points and 14 rebounds, and New Orleans defeated struggling Milwaukee.

Tyreke Evans scored 25 points for the Pelicans, who have won two straight after losing their previous eight games. Anthony Morrow added 16 points, including a 3-pointer as he was fouled to give the Pelicans their largest lead at 100-90 with 4:50 left. Brian Roberts scored 14 and Eric Gordon 12 for New Orleans.

Nuggets 134, Lakers 126

At Denver, Kenneth Faried scored a career-high 32 points and Ty Lawson had 30 in Denver's victory over skidding Los Angeles.

Lawson also had 17 assists and Faried grabbed 13 rebounds. Wilson Chandler had 19 points, and Timofey Mozgov and Evan Fournier added 13 apiece for the Nuggets, who swept the three-game season series.


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