Harden's triple-double leads Rockets to 9th straight win
By KRISTIE RIEKEN
HOUSTON (AP) Forget slowing down James Harden. Right now, his opponents can't even put his play into words.
Harden had 40 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists for his second straight triple-double and the Houston Rockets outlasted the Charlotte Hornets 121-114 on Tuesday night for their ninth straight win.
"There's not enough good words in the English dictionary that can describe what he's been doing," Charlotte's Marvin Williams said. "He's literally making history."
Harden has five triple-doubles in the past seven games and is averaging 32.4 points, 11.4 assists and 9.9 rebounds during this winning streak.
Harden got his 11th triple-double this season and 20th in his career. Tuesday's performance comes after he had 40 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in a win over Toronto on Sunday to make him the fourth player in NBA history with at least 40 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in consecutive games. Pete Maravich, Michael Jordan and Russell Westbrook are the three others to do it.
"As long as I play the right way and be unselfish and we win games, all that is going to come," Harden said. "I don't think about it too much. If it happens, it happens and the most important thing is winning and it's been a total turnaround from last year to this year ... so (win) and great things will come."
The Rockets missed 10 straight shots and let an 18-point lead evaporate before coach Mike D'Antoni called a timeout with 2:26 left. Ryan Anderson made Houston's first shot in more than four minutes with a 3-pointer out of the timeout, and after a block on the other end, Harden's layup put Houston up 115-111 with just over a minute to play.
Kemba Walker cut the deficit to one with a 3-pointer, but another layup by Harden made it 117-114 with 28.6 seconds left. Charlotte missed three 3-point tries in the final seconds.
Walker had 25 points for the Hornets, who dropped their third straight.
"It's going to come down to the basic principles and those are things that until this year that we were really good at," Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. "And if we want to win, we'll get back to that."
Houston led by 18 after a 3-pointer by Corey Brewer with about eight minutes remaining. A 21-2 run by the Hornets followed and put them ahead 111-110 with about 2 1/2 minutes left. Frank Kaminsky got that run going by scoring the first five points and made two 3-pointers later in that stretch, including the one that put Charlotte on top.
Rockets: G Eric Gordon missed the game with a sprained left big toe. ... Trevor Ariza had 16 points. ... Houston led by as many as 23 points. ... The Rockets had 25 fast-break points to just two by Charlotte.
CAPELA GETTING CLOSER
Rockets C Clint Capela is making progress in his recovery from a fractured left fibula. Capela, who was injured on Dec. 17, said Tuesday that he is still on schedule to return in four to six week from when he was injured.
"(I feel) way better, because when it happened I wasn't even able to walk and now I can run," he said. "So in my mind I'm really ready to go. Of course I still have like a couple of weeks in front of me before I come back. But I'm so focused on what I'm doing and I'm really excited."
Hornets: Visit Philadelphia on Friday night.
Rockets: Visit Minnesota on Wednesday night.
Updated January 10, 2017