EditorsNote: 2nd graf change 10-point to 11-point deficit, change to a pair of 13-point leads; 3rd graf, change 9:33 to 9:02
James Harden single-handedly outscored the visiting Phoenix Suns 17-10 over a key stretch of the fourth quarter Saturday night, sending the Houston Rockets to their 12th straight win over their Western Conference rival, 115-109.
Harden lost his personal duel with Devin Booker, one that featured a technical foul on each, 35-34, but came through down the stretch for the Rockets, who rallied from an early 11-point deficit and later blew a pair of 13-point leads before outlasting the guests.
Seeking to complete a winning trip after winning two of their first three, the Suns used a 15-2 run bridging the third and fourth quarters to erase a 13-point deficit and pull into an 85-all tie on a dunk by Kelly Oubre Jr. with 9:02 remaining in the game.
That's when Harden, just 5-for-20 from the field and 1-for-11 on threes to that point, took charge.
He had two 3-pointers and nine free throws during a stretch in which he did all of the Houston scoring, taking the hosts from the tie to a 102-95 lead with 3:59 to go.
The Rockets held on from there, with Russell Westbrook capping a triple-double performance with three hoops, two of which he turned into three-point plays.
Harden finished 8-for-27 from the field, 3-for-17 on 3-pointers and 15-for-18 at the line for his fourth consecutive game with 30 or more points against the Suns.
Meanwhile, Westbrook contributed 24 points, a game-high 14 rebounds and 11 assists to the win, while Clint Capela added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Ben McLemore complemented his fellow guards with 27 points off the bench for the Rockets, who won for the fourth time in their last five games.
Booker was more efficient than Harden in his offensive game, shooting 11-for-19 overall, 2-for-4 on 3-pointers and 11-for-16 at the line for his game-high point total.
Ricky Rubio (10 points, game-high 13 assists) and Dario Saric (13 points, 12 rebounds) registered double-doubles for the Suns, while Oubre finished with 19 points and Mikal Bridges 14.
Saric bombed in three 3-pointers, helping the Suns, beaten for the seventh straight time in Houston, keep pace with the Rockets from beyond the arc, with each team making 11.
The Rockets outshot the Suns overall 45.1 percent to 41.7 and outscored them 22-18 at the line.
--Field Level Media