Wednesday night at Staples Center, James Harden scored 17 points in a first quarter that saw the Rockets lead by as many as 25 in a 105-92 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
The win is the Rockets 14th in a row, and they become the sixth team in NBA history to have two 14-game win streaks in a single season.
The Clippers scored the game’s first bucket, but Harden’s reverse layup on the ensuing possession tied the game, and Los Angeles never led again. Once Clint Capela followed Austin Rivers’ missed 3-point attempt by finishing an alleyoop from Harden, the Rockets led the rest of the way.
With Houston leading 6-2, Tobias Harris brought the Clippers back within one with a 3-point play, but the Rockets scored the next seven points, and after Milos Teodosic connected on a 16-foot jumper, the Rockets countered with an 18-0 run capped by a Harden step-back three that left defender Wesley Johnson crumpled on the ground. The quarter ended with the Rockets leading 34-12. Harden made 4-of-6 shots, 3-of-5 from behind the 3-point line, and he knocked down all six of his free throw attempts. The Rockets held the Clippers to 5-of-22 shooting, and the 12 points matched a season-low.
The Rockets scored the first five points of the second quarter to make it a 27-point game, which would be their largest lead of the night. The Clippers trimmed the advantage to 18 by halftime, and after the Rockets built the lead back to 22 early in the second half, the Clippers made a run to get within eight, but never closer as the Rockets improve to 48-13 on the season.
Harden finished with 25 points, while Clint Capela gave the Rockets 22 points and 14 rebounds.
Eric Gordon returned to the Rockets lineup after missing four games and also scored 22.
Los Angeles falls to 32-28 despite 24 points from Harris. Former Rocket Montrezl Harrell scored 22 of the bench.
The Rockets will look to equal the second longest win streak in franchise history Saturday night at Toyota Center when they take on the Boston Celtics.