(The Sports Xchange) - Guard James Harden scored a season-best 46 points to spark the Houston Rockets to a 109-105 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center on Saturday.
Center Dwight Howard finished with 20 points and 20 rebounds for the Rockets (4-3), who posted their fourth consecutive win. Forward Marcus Thornton chipped in 16 points.
Forward Blake Griffin had 35 points, 11 rebounds and five assists to lead Los Angeles (4-2), which lost its second straight game and played without point guard Chris Paul (sore right groin).
Guard J.J. Redick added 19 points for the Clippers.
Houston played without guard Patrick Beverley (concussion), forward Terrence Jones (right eyelid laceration) and forward-center Donatas Motiejunas (lower back pain).
It was the first meeting between the two clubs since the Rockets upended the Clippers in the Western Conference semi-finals last season by rallying from a 3-1 deficit to prevail in seven games.
Harden made sure the Rockets would carry on the winning run by topping 40 points for the second night in a row.
He scored 43 points and dished out 13 assists in Houston’s 116-110 win over the Kings in Sacramento on Friday and picked up where he left off against the Clippers, scoring 18 points in the opening quarter.
The Rockets snagged their biggest lead, a 93-82 cushion, after a Harden three-pointer less than four minutes into the final quarter but the Clippers pulled to within 105-102 on a layup by Redick and two free throws by Griffin with 1:04 left.
After an offensive foul by Harden with 49.4 seconds left, forward Paul Pierce nailed a three-pointer from the corner to knot the score at 105-105 with 40.9 seconds remaining.
However, Harden converted a pair of foul shots with 32.6 seconds on the clock for a two-point Houston advantage. That turned out to be the difference.
Griffin missed a shot in the lane and a tip with 16.9 seconds left before two free throws by guard Ty Lawson soon after sealed it for Houston.
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan scored 11 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked three shots.
Compiled by John O'Brien