James Harden flirted with a triple double as the Houston Rockets beat the Phoenix Suns for the 10th straight game with a 108-102 win on Friday.
Harden had 41 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds finishing just one rebound short of a triple double. He also had six steals.
Houston was behind for much of the game and shot poorly from beyond the arc but their ability to finish down the stretch gave them their 10th win in their last 11 NBA games.
Harden’s final assist was key as it helped seal the Rockets victory. Harden made a nice dish to teammate Danuel House who nailed a three pointer to give the Rockets a 105-100 lead with under a minute left.
Harden later made a free throw with 11 seconds left to make it 106-102.
Suns Devin Booker missed a three pointer and Harden made two more free throws to seal the win.
Harden said there are some aspects they need to improve on. “We’ve just got to be more consistent with demanding stops,” he said.
“We do it when we need to, but we need to do it throughout the course of a game. Then, that will take our game to another level.”
Eric Gordon added 19 points and House had 18 for the Rockets on a night Chris Paul was given the night off. Booker delivered 29 points for the Suns, who lost their second in a row.
“We couldn’t really close the game,” Suns coach Igor Kokoskov said. “We lost the game in the last couple of minutes and the last couple of possessions.”
In Washington, Kemba Walker scored 28 points and the Charlotte Hornets overcame Bradley Beal’s 40-point performance with a 116-110 win over the Washington Wizards.
Jeremy Lamb added 18 points, Nicolas Batum and Tony Parker had 16 points each for Charlotte in a game between two teams battling for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
Walker knows how Beal feels. He was coming off a 40-point effort in a loss to the Rockets.
Beal had 23 by halftime and finished with 40 on 15-of-29 shooting.
Jabari Parker had 17 points and 11 rebounds and Jeff Green scored 20 points for the Wizards who had won two straight. Charlotte had lost two straight and seven of nine.
Charlotte led 66-53 at halftime, and Bismack Biyombo’s basket made it 79-60 early in the third quarter.
In Los Angeles, Danilo Gallinari scored 27 points as the Los Angeles Clippers rallied in a third quarter that saw both coaches thrown out for arguing to beat the Chicago Bulls 128-121.
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers was ejected along with his Chicago counterpart Jim Boylen late in the third quarter after Boylen thought Montrezl Harrell was too aggressive on an offensive foul.
“I was talking to the ref and I hear Boylen say to me we were dirty or whatever because in first half we set another legal pick and one of their guys got hurt.
“I wanted to say turn around and yell at your guys and tell them to call out picks but don’t yell at me. I didn’t say it that nicely. Then ref threw us both out.
“I been around for awhile and I think I needed to try something new. It felt pretty good actually.”
Elsewhere, Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 33 points, and the visiting Milwaukee Bucks rallied from a 20-point halftime deficit to beat the Miami Heat 113-98.
In Detroit, Langston Galloway came off the bench to score 23 points and the Pistons downed the lowly Los Angeles Lakers 111-97.
The Pistons snapped a two-game losing streak, while the Lakers lost for the seventh time in eight games.