LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - Chris Paul scored a team-high 25 points and James Harden added a double-double as the Houston Rockets extended their winning streak to 16 games with a 122-112 National Basketball Association (NBA) victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday (March 6) at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Paul made five of six three-point attempts and added five assists plus three steals to help the Rockets stave off a late Thunder rally. Oklahoma City fell into a 19-point hole midway through the fourth quarter before cutting the deficit to eight with a late flurry, a byproduct of aggressive forays to the rim.
Harden chipped in 23 points and 11 assists and Houston overcame his 10 turnovers to extend their winning streak, the second-longest in franchise history. The Rockets did so again via their three-point proficiency, connecting on 17 of 33 attempted treys while shooting a robust 53.5 per cent overall.
Russell Westbrook paced the Thunder with 32 points but needed 27 shots to reach that total while also committing nine turnovers. Carmelo Anthony added 23 points for the Thunder, who entered play fighting to remain in the post-season picture in the congested Western Conference.
Anthony passed Jerry West for 20th on the all-time NBA scoring list in the loss.
Houston, meanwhile, remained atop the West standings ahead of the Golden State Warriors.
In addition to Paul and Harden, five other Rockets scored in double figures. Trevor Ariza tallied 15 points on three-of-five three-point shooting and Eric Gordon made three treys off the bench for 14 points.
Harden salvaged a ragged first quarter for the Rockets, answering a 13-0 Thunder run by having a hand in 13 consecutive points for Houston. He mixed in a three-point play, a floater, two free throws and a three-pointer plus two assists to help the Rockets erase a nine-point deficit.
After the Thunder opened the second quarter with consecutive threes, the Rockets responded with a 12-0 run to secure a 38-30 lead. Houston pushed their lead to 14 points before Anthony scored 11 of the final 15 points for the Thunder in the first half. However, the Rockets torched Anthony defensively, isolating him against Harden on the switch in running off a string of easy baskets.