SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA – James Harden spent the fourth quarter smiling on the Houston Rockets’ bench. DeMarcus Cousins finished the final period in the Sacramento Kings’ locker room.
Their performances were just as different on the floor, too.
Harden scored a season-high 43 points in three quarters, and the Rockets routed the Kings 129-103 on Tuesday night after Cousins was ejected for vehemently arguing with officials.
“These are the type of wins that we need, especially late in the season, to lock down and focus,” Harden said.
Harden helped Houston go ahead by 25 points in the first quarter, 31 in the second and 33 in the third. He shot 11 of 20 from the floor, made 15 of 16 free throws and added eight assists, three steals and two rebounds.
Dwight Howard left briefly after banging his right knee but returned to finish with 20 points and 11 rebounds, and Chandler Parsons had 10 points and eight rebounds for the Rockets, who have won 10 of their last 11 games.
“You get a big lead early you’re always a little concerned about keeping everybody’s interests. They did a nice job,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said.
Cousins had 16 points and six rebounds for the Kings before needing to be restrained after getting ejected in the third quarter. He picked up his NBA-leading 14th and 15th technical fouls.
“He lost his composure, that’s all I saw, and then he got thrown out of the game. It’s disappointing. But to be honest, I’m more disappointed about how we played,” Kings coach Michael Malone said.
Rudy Gay added 25 points and six assists, and Ben McLemore scored 15 points for a Sacramento team that looked nothing like the one that beat Houston twice previously this season. The teams split four games.
Harden had 22 points and four assists in the first quarter to help Houston go ahead 42-17.
Trail Blazers 100, Nuggets 95
In Denver, Damian Lillard made up for the absence of fellow All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge by scoring 31 points in Portland’s win over the Nuggets.
Pacers 118, Lakers 98
In Indianapolis, Paul George scored 12 of his 20 points in the third quarter, Evan Turner had 13 points in his Pacers debut, and Indiana improved its league-leading record to 43-13.
Bulls 107, Hawks 103
In Atlanta, Mike Dunleavy scored 22 points and Joakim Noah had 20 points and 12 rebounds, helping Chicago hold on for the road win.
Timberwolves 110, Suns 101
In Phoenix, Kevin Love had 33 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, powering Minnesota to the win.
Raptors 99, Cavaliers 93
In Cleveland, DeMar DeRozan scored 16 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter, and Toronto won for the sixth time in seven games.
Wizards 115, Magic 106
In Washington, John Wall scored 27 points, and the Wizards survived their first game after Nene’s latest injury.