HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – James Harden messed around and got a triple-double while a bench star continued to pour it in as the Rockets end a three-game losing streak by beating the Raptors 112-109.

Patrick Beverley set a blistering pace for the Rockets early knocking down all three of his initial shots from deep. Bench star and late-season addition Michael Beasley chipped in ten points off the bench as the Rockets took an eight-point lead into the second quarter leading 29-21.

Harden said the first quarter “set the tone” for the team and the momentum carried on for the game.

The second quarter saw Harden get going for the Rockets as he rattled off five in the middle of the quarter and with just under six minutes left in the half Dwight Howard found the net for his first two points. The quarter defensively saw the Rockets wilt against the Raptors offense while their own offense wandered through a barren wasteland once again.

A 25-10 run saw the Raptors take the lead into halftime 58-54.

The third quarter barely started before Dwight Howard picked up his fourth foul isolating him like Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. With Howard relegated to Clark Kent status, Harden took to the court like Batman to Gotham. Using all the aspects of his utility belt Harden dished, hit deuces, and drew a foul shooting a three before nailing all his shots to keep the Rockets close at the quarter’s midway point.

The two teams would trade baskets until Harden pushed off a joker and the Dark Knight rose up for two to give the Rockets a 79-78 advantage through three.

The small lineup would take over upon Clint Capela’s fourth foul allowing the Rockets to go on a run extending their lead to ten. As the lead dwindled to six Superman returned to help. The Raptors would quickly find Howard’s kryptonite driving to the basket drawing a foul. Corey Brewer, quick as flash, would chip in 7 points in the first half of the fourth.

After the game, J.B. Bickerstaff praised the effectiveness of his strategy saying Beasley gives them good rebounding while allowing them to spread the floor.

Patrick Beverley echoed the sentiments.

“We didn’t want to come out and of course, show our full hand we wanted to wait. That’s what we did…Like I said everybody got a piece of the pie.”

Harden would earn the final tally of his triple-double with five minutes left in the game. With just under three minutes the Raptors DeMar DeRozan would take issue with the referees and get himself ejected. Kyle Lowry would eventually pick up his second technical foul and earn himself an ejection as well. Beasley and Harden would team-up like the World’s Finest down the stretch to help defend a late Toronto rally for the win.

Harden’s final line in the win 30 points, 13 assists, and 10 rebounds. Beasley dropped in 21 off the bench.

Bickerstaff, impressed by Harden’s performance, said his superstar is doing something special.

“I think he’s trying to will us into the playoffs.”

The Rockets are now 36-37 clinging to the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Follow Stoots on Twitter – @Cody_Stoots


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