EditorsNote: adds a new sentence to fifth graf
James Harden scored 29 of his game-high 43 points in the second half, and the Houston Rockets extended their winning streak to five games with a 126-124 victory over the visiting Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.
Harden finished 10 of 20 from the floor and 19 of 19 from the foul line to offset a strong performance from Pistons forward Blake Griffin, who scored 19 fourth-quarter points en route to a 37-point, 11-rebound effort. Griffin hit 6 of 9 3-point attempts but also committed nine turnovers.
Andre Drummond added a double-double for the Pistons with 20 points and 11 rebounds. His counterpart for Houston, Clint Capela, also recorded a double-double (27 points, 15 boards).
The Pistons, last in the NBA in field-goal percentage, hit 16 of 34 from long range but could not slow the Rockets, who shot 55.6 percent overall. Chris Paul had 20 points and seven assists for Houston.
Harden passed Rudy Tomjanovich for third in Rockets career scoring via a goaltending call on Drummond with 1:44 remaining. Tomjanovich (1970-81) tallied 13,383 points with the Rockets. Harden ended the night with 13,391 points.
Trailing 57-56 at the break, Houston opened the second half with a 9-0 run. Harden, who sank two free throws and assisted on a P.J. Tucker 3-pointer during the spurt, dominated the frame offensively, adding five assists to his 15 points. And while their offense maintained the pace established in the first quarter, the Rockets finally discovered some complementary defense, holding Drummond scoreless in the third while Griffin missed all four of his shot attempts.
The Rockets shot well from the start, converting 11 of 20 attempts in the opening period. But the Pistons’ ferocity on the offensive glass was present early, too, with six offensive rebounds yielding four second-chance points. Toss in 4-for-8 shooting from behind the arc, including a Langston Galloway trey in the waning seconds, and Detroit trailed just 31-29 entering the second.
Detroit maintained its advantage both on the offensive boards and from the perimeter throughout the first half while also capitalizing on the Rockets’ nine turnovers prior to intermission. The Pistons recorded 14 points off Houston turnovers in the opening half and shot 40 percent from 3-point range, and their handiwork on the glass produced a plus-8 margin in shot attempts.
The Rockets shot better in the second quarter (11-for-18) yet trailed at the break in part due to the Pistons’ physicality. But when Houston kept connecting in the third while siphoning off the interior scoring of Griffin and Drummond, who totaled 25 first-half points, the hosts seized control.
—Field Level Media