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Old 12-22-2014, 11:20 PM   #1
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Harden's 44 lead Rockets over Blazers, 110-95

James Harden scored a season-high 44 points to help the Houston Rockets cruise to a 110-95 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night and snap a two-game skid.

The Trail Blazers were without leading scorer and rebounder LaMarcus Aldridge, who missed the game with an upper-respiratory illness, and had their five-game winning streak snapped.

Harden had 31 in the first half to help the Rockets erase an early eight-point deficit and take a 20-point halftime lead. The Blazers didn't threaten after that and Harden went to the bench for good with about 4 minutes left and Houston up 107-86.

It was Harden's NBA-leading third 40-point game this season, with all of them coming this month. Harden, who leads the NBA in scoring, has had 11 games with at least 30 points this season, which also leads the league.

Damian Lillard led Portland with 18 points and CJ McCollum added 17.

Harden came just two points shy of his career high, set against Oklahoma City last season. He also had seven assists and five steals, while Dwight Howard added 16 points and 13 rebounds.

The Trail Blazers scored eight straight points, with five coming from Lillard, to cut the lead to 84-70 midway through the third quarter. But Houston used a 9-2 run to push it to 93-72 with 2 minutes left in the period.

Jason Terry hit a 3-pointer to become the third player in NBA history to make 2,000 3-pointers and push Houston's lead to 96-76 entering the fourth quarter. Ray Allen and Reggie Miller are the other players to reach the plateau.

The Rockets, who lead the league in 3-pointers, made 13 on Monday night.

Wesley Matthews received a flagrant foul when he knocked Donatas Motiejunas to the ground when the two were fighting for a loose ball early in the third quarter.

A highlight for Harden came in the second quarter, when he drove into the lane and threw up an off-balance shot that swished through the net as he was fouled by Matthews. Harden high-fived several fans in courtside seats as Matthews jawed with officials to draw a technical foul.

Harden made both free throws to leave Houston up 57-45. He had eight points in the quarter after that, including a layup at the buzzer with two defenders on him to make it 73-53 at halftime.

The Trail Blazers were up by four points with 2 1/2 minutes left in the first quarter before Harden got rolling. He scored all of Houston's points in an 11-2 run, capped by a four-point play, to give Houston a 32-27 lead.

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