CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Guard James Harden scored 31 points as the Houston Rockets extended their winning streak to four games with a 100-89 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday night.
Harden scored 14 of his points in the third quarter, when the Rockets pushed a four-point halftime lead to 78-68 after three quarters. The Rockets went on to lead by as many as 13 in the fourth quarter and never let Charlotte closer than five down the stretch.
Harden’s 20-footer at the shot-clock buzzer with 2:45 remaining pushed the lead to 92-85 and may have been the biggest shot of the game. Forward Chandler Parsons and guard Patrick Beverley hit 3-pointers on the Rockets’ next two possessions and the Rockets cruised from there.
Center Dwight Howard returned after missing the previous three games with a left ankle strain and finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds in 32 minutes, although he battled foul trouble much of the game.
The Rockets (48-22) remain in the No. 4 spot in the Western Conference playoff race, chasing the Los Angeles Clippers, whom they will face on Saturday night in Houston.
Forward Terrence Jones had 18 points, Parsons scored 11, and guard Jeremy Lin added 10 for the Rockets.
The Bobcats (34-37) were lethargic much of the night after beating Portland by 30 on Saturday night. They shot just 37.2 percent from the field.
Guard Kemba Walker led the Bobcats with 22 points, and center Al Jefferson finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
NOTES: NBA commissioner Adam Silver attended the game after spending the day with Bobcats officials. … The Rockets have won six in a row in the series and won the only previous game this season, 96-93 in Houston on Oct. 30 in the season-opener for both teams. … The Bobcats’ 124-94 win over Portland on Saturday night moved them to 21-4 when they score 100 points or more this season. … Rockets G James Harden came into the game fifth in the NBA in scoring at 24.8, while Bobcats C Al Jefferson stood 13th at 21.4. Rockets C Dwight Howard was fourth in the league in rebounding at 12.4. … The Rockets were closing out a brief two-game trip after winning at Cleveland 118-111 on Saturday. … The Bobcats will be without C Brendan Haywood (stress fracture left foot) and F Jeffery Taylor (ruptured right Achilles) for the rest of the season. … The Rockets were without G Francisco Garcia (personal reasons) and F Greg Smith (right knee procedure). … The Bobcats were playing the second game of a three-game home stand. They will host Brooklyn on Wednesday. … The Rockets will return home to face Philadelphia on Thursday. They are currently on a 10-game home winning streak.
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