Behind Harden triple-double, Rockets hold off Cavs
HOUSTON -- James Harden produced a triple-double and Clint Capela recorded two critical baskets in the restricted area as the Houston Rockets held on for a 117-113 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night at Toyota Center.
Harden tallied a game-high 35 points with 11 rebounds and 13 assists, feeding Capela for an alley-oop dunk after forward P.J. Tucker dug out a loose ball on the floor late in the game. Harden snagged the pass from the seated Tucker, tossed the ball at the rim, and Capela finished through a foul for a four-point lead with 1:10 to play.
Capela added a second-chance basket with 10.7 seconds left.
LeBron James led the Cavaliers with 33 points and seven assists, though he committed nine turnovers. Jeff Green scored 27 points on 11-of-15 shooting off the Cleveland bench.
Eric Gordon scored 20 points for Houston, and Capela added 19 points and 13 boards.
The Rockets (9-3) went nearly seven minutes without a field goal after securing a 13-point lead on a Tucker 3-pointer with 8:03 remaining. That drought enabled the Cavaliers (5-7) to fashion a 13-1 run, with James kick-starting the rally with a 3-pointer and Green ending it with a deep pullup jumper. But when Harden and the Rockets appeared gassed, Tucker saved them.
After shooting a robust 51.3 percent in their 36-point first quarter, the Rockets appeared to seize control for good when they opened the second period 6 of 6 from the floor, including 4 of 4 from 3-point range. Gordon drilled the final trey to complete his personal 12-point blitz and extend what was an 11-point lead entering the period to 53-36 with 8:31 remaining in the half.
Green initiated his individual assault immediately thereafter, scoring nine consecutive points to cut the deficit to eight. James re-entered the game and offered support, and with the Rockets committing 11 turnovers in the period, the Cavaliers fashioned a remarkable rally.
Green and James combined for 36 points on 15-of-17 shooting in the quarter, with Cleveland reclaiming the lead at 62-61 on the first of two Green free throws at the 1:00 mark. James added a dunk and a reverse layup and, once down 47-25, Cleveland led 67-65 at the break.
NOTES: With Cavaliers G Derrick Rose sidelined due to a left ankle injury, G Iman Shumpert made his second start of the season and first since Oct. 28 when he posted five points and two rebounds over 20 minutes at New Orleans. Shumpert produced seven points and five assists Thursday. ... For the third time in four games, the Rockets eschewed the traditional game-day shoot-around, with coach Mike D'Antoni strongly considering eliminating the practice altogether. Houston played with verve against the New York Knicks and Utah Jazz after skipping a shoot-around both days. ... Rockets F Luc Mbah a Moute was unavailable because of a left knee contusion.