Harden leads Rockets to first win, 110-105 over Thunder


HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden scored 37 points, and the Houston Rockets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 110-105 on Monday night for their first win of the season.

It was the first loss for the Thunder, who won their first three games while the Rockets dropped their first three.

An 8-1 run by the Rockets made it 107-100 with about two minutes left. Harden capped that key stretch with a 3, knocking it down with Russell Westbrook right in his face.

Westbrook made a 3-pointer with 44 seconds left to cut the lead to 108-105, and Harden missed a 3 on the other end. But Westbrook and Kevin Durant both missed 3-pointers on the next possession and Dwight Howard made a pair of free throws with 5.7 seconds left to secure the victory.

Durant led the Thunder with 29 points, and Westbrook added 25 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists.

Harden was 12 of 26 from the field after a tough start to the season. He shot below 30 percent in each of the first three games.

He scored five straight points to put the Rockets on top 97-93 midway through the fourth, but consecutive baskets by Durant and Westbrook tied it back up less than a minute later.

It was just the second game of the season for Howard, who missed the opener because he was suspended for flagrant fouls in the postseason, and also rested on Sunday. Howard missed seven of eight preseason games with a stiff back. He finished with 16 points and eight rebounds.

The teams exchanged the lead several times early in the fourth quarter, once when a 3-pointer by Patrick Beverley gave Houston a 90-89 advantage with less than nine minutes remaining. He beat his chest and mouthed to Westbrook after the score.

Westbrook’s layup put Oklahoma City up 93-92, and the jawing continued, earning both players a technical foul.

A free throw by D.J. Augustin extended Oklahoma City’s lead to four late in the third quarter. But the Rockets scored the last seven points of the period, highlighted by a 3-pointer by Beverley that made it 82-79, putting them on top for the first time since the first quarter.

Oklahoma City led by 10 points midway through the third after a tip-in by Serge Ibaka. The Rockets then found their offense, scoring the next eight points thanks to 3-pointers by Marcus Thornton and Harden to get within 75-73 a couple