Harden scores 36, surpasses 15,000, as Rockets beat Nets
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By BRIAN MAHONEY
NEW YORK (AP) That's 15,000 points for James Harden, with plenty more to come the way these Houston Rockets can run it up.
Harden scored 36 points, reaching a milestone along the way, and the Rockets beat the Brooklyn Nets 123-113 on Tuesday night for their fifth straight victory.
Chris Paul added 25 points for the Rockets, who kept right on rolling in their first game since their nationally televised romp in Cleveland on Saturday.
"It's all coaching out there. You saw that, right?" Houston's Mike D'Antoni said. "Chris Paul, James, you got those two guys, it's one or the other. It's unbelievable."
Both teams made 16 3-pointers in an entertaining shootout between D'Antoni's Rockets and the Nets of Kenny Atkinson, who assisted D'Antoni in New York and has the Nets trying to do some of the things Houston does on offense.
But it's one thing to be like the Rockets and another to beat them. Houston simply went to another gear when Brooklyn took the lead late in the third quarter and never stopped scoring long enough in the fourth to let the Nets get too close.
"In the first half they were making shots. Second half, especially at the end of the third quarter, we had to lock down, get stops and push the lead ahead," Harden said.
DeMarre Carroll scored 21 points for the Nets and Spencer Dinwiddie added 18 points and nine assists. Brooklyn has lost seven of its last eight.
"We never found a solution to stop them, obviously," Atkinson said. "They made a lot of tough shots."
The Nets had an 84-80 lead when Dinwiddie hit from nearly 10 feet behind the arc with 3:38 remaining in the third. The Rockets charged back with 11 straight points, including two 3-pointers by Gerald Green, to go up 91-84.
"We just started getting stops on defense," Paul said. "All game long it seemed like they were just too comfortable, and they played well. I think you got to give them a lot of credit. They moved the ball well, and then we just locked in defensively, started making some shots."
Brooklyn ended the run with a pair of free throws but Paul then was fouled behind the line and made all three. He scored the final basket of the period to make it 96-86 when Nene freed him for a layup with a devastating pick on Caris LeVert, knocking him out of the game.
Rockets: Eric Gordon returned after missing 2 1/2 games with low back stiffness, scoring 13 points. ... D'Antoni said F Trevor Ariza (left hamstring strain) still had a little way to go before coming back, saying there was no timetable yet for his return.
Nets: LeVert was being evaluated for a possible concussion. ... Brooklyn remained without starting F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson because of a right groin strain. Quincy Acy, who had been starting in his place, was sidelined with a sprained right middle finger.
The Rockets' star backcourt got plenty of help from Clint Capela (18 points, 11 rebounds) and Green (16 points). Also, the Rockets outscored the Nets by 17 points during Nene's 14 1/2 minutes on the court.
Rockets: Visit Miami on Wednesday.
Nets: Visit Detroit on Wednesday.
More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
Updated February 7, 2018