HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610)- For the second straight game, James Harden scored 51 points, and for the second straight game the Rockets lost. On Friday night, it was to the Los Angeles Clippers 128-118 at Toyota Center.
Harden shot 15-of-28 from the floor and 15-of-16 from the free throw, but he had eight turnovers and fouled out with 26 seconds left, leading to an ejection, his first of the season. Harden was called for two offensive fouls in a 49 second span, leading to his fifth and sixth fouls. The loss drops the Rockets to 25-6 on the season and it marks the first time they’ve lost two in a row.
Playing without Chris Paul (left adductor strain), Clint Capela (left heal contusion), and Luc Mbah a Moute (dislocated left shoulder), the Rockets jumped out to a 10 point lead after a quarter thanks to Harden’s 20 points, and led by 13 at the break, but the Clippers scored 76 points in the second half, led by Austin Rivers 30. He scored a career-high 36 points, while Lou Williams added 32 off the bench.
Los Angeles played without four of its expected starters coming into the season (Blake Griffin, Danillo Gallinari, Patrick Beverley, and Milos Teodosic), and after Harden’s layup opened the second half to put the Rockets up 15, their largest lead of the night, the Clippers scored five straight to get the lead down to 10, and then six straight following a pair of Ryan Anderson free throws. Eric Gordon knocked down a three to up the lead to seven, but a 7-0 Clippers spurt tied the game.
Houston did score six straight after that, only to see the Clippers close the third quarter on a 13-5 run to take an 87-85 lead into the fourth quarter, and they led the rest of the way, improving to 13-18 on the season.
After shooting 1-of-7 in the first half, Rivers shot 10-of-18 in the second half. DeAndre Jordan had a 15 point, 17 rebound night.
The Clippers bench outscored the Rockets bench 62-10, with Evans scoring 15 and Sam Dekker adding 12.
Gordon scored 28 points for the Rockets, and they shot 46 percent from the field and 43 percent from behind the 3-point line, but have now allowed at least 122 points in back-to-back games.