HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden finished one rebound shy of a 40-point triple-double, and the Houston Rockets erased a 15-point deficit to beat the visiting Charlotte Hornets 125-110 on Tuesday.
Harden was exceptional throughout but especially down the stretch, fueling a 12-3 run in the fourth quarter that enable Houston to secure control. Harden hit a 3-pointer, converted a floater in the lane and fed Danuel House Jr. for a transition alley-oop en route to 40 points and 12 assists to help Houston win despite the absence of Russell Westbrook (thumb) and Clint Capela (heel).
House added 22 points and nine rebounds while P.J. Tucker posted 13 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals. After allowing 14 second-chance points in the first quarter, Houston surrendered eight over the final three periods to mitigate a 53-41 rebounding deficit.
Miles Bridges and Terry Rozier scored 20 apiece for the Hornets, who have dropped four in a row and 12 of their past 13 games. Bridges added a game-high 15 rebounds. Malik Monk scored 19 off the bench for Charlotte while Devonte’ Graham produced 16 points and 10 assists.
There was no mystery behind the Hornets’ early success. Charlotte led by as many as 13 points in the first quarter due to its prowess on the glass. The Hornets posted a 20-9 rebounding advantage in the period, grabbing seven offensive boards.
Charlotte benefited from the Rockets shooting just 36.4 percent in the opening quarter, but Houston incrementally clawed back in the second by drilling six 3-pointers and going 12 of 12 at the free-throw line. Harden had nine of those foul shots as Houston rolled to a 40-point frame.
However, it wasn’t until 1:59 remained in the second that the Rockets finally claimed their first lead with Harden feeding House for a transition layup and a 59-58 advantage. But Cody Martin scored five points in succession, and the Hornets reclaimed a 63-62 lead at the intermission.