(The Sports Xchange) - James Harden recorded his seventh triple-double of the season while Montrezl Harrell scored a career-high 29 points off the bench to fuel the Houston Rockets’ 140-116 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.
Harden finished with 30 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists while Harrell helped finish off the Clippers with 13 fourth-quarter points.
Houston led by 25 points midway through the second quarter but needed Harden and Harrell to carry it to victory.
Reserve guard Raymond Felton paired 26 points with eight assists off the bench while centre DeAndre Jordan added 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Clippers, who dropped their fifth consecutive game.
Los Angeles guard Austin Rivers and coach Doc Rivers were ejected 25 seconds apart in the second quarter, with the former sent to the locker room following his contact with official J.T. Orr.
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” Austin Rivers said. “I reacted to the play. I had no idea (Orr) was there. I was backing up and I said, ‘Call the foul.’ When I did it I was turning and he was right there and my elbow touched him. I’ve never in my career put my hands on a ref and I don’t ever plan to.
“I didn’t mean to touch him. I didn’t do anything wrong. I’ll stand by that. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Instead of coming undone, the shorthanded Clippers rallied following the ejections.
Rockets forward Ryan Anderson sank the technical free throw after the ejection of the elder Rivers, boosting the Houston lead to 60-35 with 6:13 remaining in the first half.
Keyed by a pair of three-pointers by Marreese Speights, the Clippers fought back with an 18-4 run that cut the deficit to 64-53.
Houston scored a season-high 74 points in the first half but their defense was in tatters after Speights put the Clippers on his back.
In the third, Felton and Jordan combined for 32 points with Jordan adding seven rebounds and Felton four assists, to whittle a 17-point deficit at the break to 102-96 at the 1:23 mark.
The Clippers shot 17 of 27 in the third quarter to reduce the deficit to 10 points, before the Rockets pulled away in the final quarter.
“We handled our business,” Harden said. “Made some shots and got some stops when we needed to and finished the game off.”