James Harden’s 41 lead Rockets past Thunder 118-110
HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden had 41 points with nine assists to help the Houston Rockets improve their playoff chances with a 118-110 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday.
With 30 seconds left, Harden stole a pass from Kevin Durant and found Patrick Beverley for a transition dunk to give Houston an eight-point lead and the Rockets held on for an important victory.
The Thunder led by six early in the fourth until Harden hit back-to-back 3s to tie the game at 93.
The inconsistent Rockets have alternated wins and losses for six straight games as they desperately chase a trip to the postseason.
Oklahoma City lost for just the second time in the past three weeks and had won nine of its previous 10 entering Sunday.
Durant had 33 points and eight rebounds for the Thunder.
After posting seven triple-doubles in the month of March, Russell Westbrook had 23 points, 13 rebounds and fell one assist shy of picking up his 17th triple-double of the season.
Houston closes out the season with games against Dallas, Phoenix, the Lakers and Sacramento.
Both teams started off slow. They missed a combined 10 of their first 12 shot attempts and committed a total of 15 first-half turnovers. The Rockets got going with hustle around the rim.
On a second-quarter possession, Houston missed six shots and gathered offensive rebounds every time until Dwight Howard ended it with a dunk to put the Rockets up 33-30.
Houston held a five-point lead at the end of the first quarter after Jason Terry hit a 3-pointer with one second remaining.
The Thunder finished the second quarter on a 7-0 run, capped by a layup from Westbrook that put Oklahoma City up 53-52 at the half.
Oklahoma City built its largest lead of the game midway through the third quarter, going up 12. Houston briefly regained the lead until Durant closed out the quarter with three consecutive free throws to give the Thunder an 82-80 lead entering the fourth.
Thunder: Oklahoma City had 21 turnovers, Houston had 10. ... Enes Kanter scored 16 points off the bench for Oklahoma City in just 18 minutes. . For the sixth time in the past seven games, Nick Collison did not play.
Rockets: SG K.J. McDaniels played a season-high 18 minutes and scored 10 points. ... Andrew Goudeluck played for the first time since March 14, picking up two points and two steals in nine minutes. . PF Terrence Jones was the only active Rocket who didn’t play in the game, as he has been out since Feb. 29.