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Harden’s 37 points leads Rockets over Knicks 123-112
Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) shoots as New York Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. (5) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Harden had 31 by halftime, helping Houston to a 72-57 lead at the break. He cooled down eventually, but his first-half work put the Rockets in control against the struggling Knicks, who lost their fourth in a row.
Harden, who had a career-high 61 points against the Knicks in January 2019, didn’t score in the fourth quarter before sitting down for good with about three minutes left and the game well in hand. He also finished with nine assists and six rebounds.
Harden, Russell Westbrook and P.J. Tucker arrived at the arena about 70 minutes before tip-off after attending Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s memorial service in Los Angeles. Westbrook was expected to play against the Knicks, but was scratched minutes before the game with a sore thumb.
The Rockets were up still up by 15 to start the fourth quarter and pushed the lead to 111-91 with about 9 1/2 minutes left after an 8-2 run, highlighted by five points from Austin Rivers.
Knicks: G Elfrid Payton missed his second straight game with a sore right ankle. … Dennis Smith Jr. had 15 points. … New York made 11 of 29 3-pointers.
Rockets: G Eric Gordon started in place of Westbrook and had 16 points in his second game back after missing three games with a bruised left leg. But he left early in the fourth quarter with a sore knee. … Ben McLemore had 17 points off the bench.
Knicks: Visit Charlotte on Wednesday night.
Rockets: Host the Grizzlies on Wednesday night.