Harden scores 40, gets near triple-double
PHOENIX – James Harden scored 20 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter and Houston pulled away to beat Phoenix 127-118 on Tuesday night. Josh Smith added 20 for the Rockets, who trailed 89-88 at the end of the third quarter after Phoenix rallied from an early 18-point deficit.
"That game had more twists and turns than an old country road," Houston coach Kevin McHale said.
Eric Bledsoe scored 32, one shy of his career high, for the Suns, who have lost five of their past six.
Harden, who had 12 rebounds and nine assists, ended the first and second quarters with a three-pointer, then opened the fourth with a four-point play that put the Rockets ahead for good. He scored eight in a row during a two-minute stretch late in the fourth. He has six games of 40-plus points. He also had 12 rebounds and nine assists.
"He made all the tough plays for his team, like all great players do," Bledsoe said. "You know, he's in the running for MVP and he should be up there."
"James played really, really well," McHale said. "He's been playing at a high level."
Houston, winner of seven of nine, has one game before the break, Wednesday night against the Clippers in Los Angeles.
•RUNNING OF THE BULLS: Pau Gasol continued his strong play with 26 points and 16 rebounds, Tony Snell had a career-high 24 and Derrick Rose added 23 to lead host Chicago to a 104-86 rout of Sacramento. It was Gasol's NBA-best 34th double-double of the season. He now has 13 in a row. Snell was 9-for-11 from the field, including 4-for-6 on three-pointers. His previous high was 20 points. The trio combined to go 30-for-43 (69.8 percent) from the field as Chicago (33-20) won its third in a row. The Kings (18-33) have dropped 12 of 14. Rudy Gay led Sacramento with 24 points, while DeMarcus Cousins added 15 points and eight rebounds.
•SORRY, LIONEL: Zach Randolph had 19 points, Marc Gasol added 14 and 11 rebounds and the Memphis Grizzlies ruined the return of former coach Lionel Hollins with a 95-86 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. Six Grizzlies finished in double figures as Memphis won its 14th of the past 16. Courtney Lee had 15 points, Beno Udrih scored 13 and Tony Allen finished with 12. The Nets lost for the seventh time in their past 10. Mason Plumlee and Alan Anderson each had 15 points for the Nets and Plumlee also grabbed 14 rebounds. Jarrett Jack and Brook Lopez had 12 points apiece and Joe Johnson scored 11. Deron Williams managed 10 points.
•PILING UP THE DOUBLE-DOUBLES: Greg Monroe had 23 points and 12 rebounds, D.J. Augustin added 18 points and the Detroit Pistons handed the host Charlotte Hornets their third consecutive loss 106-78. Monroe tied a franchise record with 14 double-doubles in January. He was dominant inside and on the drive when the Pistons build a 23-point lead at the end of the third quarter. They coasted to an easy victory.
•WADE OUT, KORVER IN: Heat guard Dwyane Wade will not play in Sunday's NBA All-Star Game because of a strained right hamstring that has kept him out of Miami's past six games. The Hawks' Kyle Korver was selected to replace him.