Harden onslaught lifts rallying Rockets over Blazers

(The Sports Xchange) - Guard James Harden scored 46 points as the Houston Rockets rallied from a 21-point, third-quarter deficit to defeat the Portland Trail Blazers 119-105 at the Moda Center on Thursday. Harden scored 34 of his points in the second half and center Dwight Howard collected 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Rockets, who won for only the fourth time in 11 outings and ended Portland's six-game winning streak. Guard Damian Lillard scored 23 points and guard CJ McCollum added 20 for the Trail Blazers, who lost for only the second time in 13 outings. Houston (29-29) out-scored Portland 33-12 in the fourth quarter to pull off the shocking turnaround victory. Lillard scored 12 points and McCollum 11 to stake Portland to a 64-49 halftime lead. Harden had 12 points, Beverley 11 and Howard 10 at the break for the Rockets. The Blazers (30-28) came out of the gates in the third quarter with an 8-2 run to improve their advantage to 21 points before the Rockets closed the gap to 85-75 on back-to-back three-pointers by guard Jason Terry. Moments later, Harden knocked down successive threes to cut the margin to 91-86, which Portland stretched by a further two points heading into the fourth quarter. Harden converted a three-point play to start the final period, then scored on a pair of layups to tie the count at 93-93 with 7:40 remaining. The momentum was now with the Rockets and Harden's lob pass for a Howard dunk gave the Rockets a 97-95 lead and guard Corey Brewer drilled a three-pointer to make it 100-95. Harden's two free throws upped Houston's advantage to 104-96 with 4:09 to play. Lillard drove for a layup to cut the lead to six points but Harden answered with a step-back jumper to make it 106-98. McCollum scored on a jumper to cut Houston's lead to six points once more. Lillard's layup drew Portland within 107-102 with two minutes to play but Harden followed with five quick points to make it 112-102 with 1:28 left. Lillard made a three-pointer to cut it to 112-105 with 1:12 to go but that was as close as the Blazers were to get. Portland jumped to an early 25-18 lead. Forward Moe Harkless knocked down a 40-footer as the horn sounded to give the Blazers a 34-28 advantage after one quarter. The difference was 45-35 after back-to-back treys by guard Gerald Henderson and a jumper by McCollum. The Blazers then used a 10-2 run to hike the margin to 55-37. They settled for a 15-point edge at the half. (Editing by John O'Brien)