PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — James Harden scored 46 points and the Houston Rockets overcame a 21-point, third-quarter deficit to beat the Trail Blazers 119-105 on Thursday night, snapping Portland’s six-game winning streak.
Dwight Howard added 19 points and 13 rebounds for Houston, which had lost four of five. But the Rockets proved resilient against the Blazers, rallying to tie it at 95 on Harden’s layup with 7:40 left, then taking the lead on Howard’s dunk.
The Rockets pushed with lead to 106-98 with 2:59 left and Portland couldn’t catch up. Harden’s layup and a pair of free throws stretched the lead to 112-102 and out of reach.
Damian Lillard had 23 points for the Blazers, who had won 15 of their last 18 to move into playoff position in the Western Conference. CJ McCollum added 20 points.
Lillard, who was showered with chants of “MVP! MVP!” every time he went to the free throw line earlier in the game, had scored 30 or more points in five consecutive games, equaling a team record set by Geoff Petrie in 1970-71, the franchise’s first season. But the Rockets consistently double-teamed him.
Houston’s last visit to Portland on Feb. 10 resulted in a 116-103 loss that prompted Houston coach J.B. Bickerstaff to call his team “broken.”
Portland’s win in that game touched off the six-game winning streak, which included a surprising 137-105 rout of Golden State. The Blazers were coming off a 112-104 victory over Brooklyn on Tuesday night.
The Rockets were coming off a 117-114 overtime loss at Utah on Tuesday.
Maurice Harkless hit a 38-foot hurl at the buzzer to end the first quarter, putting Portland up 34-28. The Blazers stretched the lead to 57-39 on McCollum’s short jumper.
Portland was up 64-49 at the half, with Lillard at 12 points and McCollum at 11. Howard, Harden and Patrick Beverley were in double figures on Houston’s side.
McCollum’s 3-pointer early in the third quarter stretched the lead to 72-51. But Jason Terry‘s 3 for Houston closed the gap to 85-75 late in the period.
Harden hit consecutive 3-pointers that got the Rockets within 91-83, part of a run where he scored 14 straight points for the Rockets.
The Rockets were without center Clint Capela because of a sprained right foot that he hurt in practice on Wednesday.
Rockets: Portland native Terrence Jones made his second appearance for the Rockets after a concussion sidelined him for five games. … Before the game, Rockets CEO Tad Brown met with team beat reporters and shot down reports that Harden had asked for former coach Kevin McHale’s firing, or that he had asked for Howard to be traded.
Trail Blazers: The Blazers head off on a six-game road trip. … The Blazers took their team photo before the game and coach Terry Stotts smiled. “I always smile – unless they tell me not to,” he said.