James Harden's NBA-best 49th double-double powers Houston Rockets

By MoiseKapenda Bower, The Sports Xchange  |  March 5, 2017 at 1:35 AM
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March 5 (UPI) -- HOUSTON -- James Harden turned a torrid stretch in the third quarter into his NBA-leading 49th double-double as the Houston Rockets topped the Memphis Grizzlies 123-108 on Saturday night at Toyota Center to split the season series.

Harden scored 20 of his game-high 33 points in the third, including 15 consecutive points for the Rockets (44-19), who stretched a two-point lead to their first double-digit advantage at 72-62 on a Harden dunk at the 6:06 mark.

Harden added 11 assists while Rockets center Clint Capela paired a career-high 24 points with 11 rebounds for his 10th double-double this season. Eric Gordon (18 points, 6 for 8 on 3-pointers) and Nene (11 points) paced a Houston bench that contributed 45 points. The Rockets also finished 18 for 42 on 3-pointers.

Four Memphis starters reached double figures in points. Guard Mike Conley posted 23 points, seven assists and six rebounds while center Marc Gasol chipped in 17 points and seven assists. Forward JaMychal Green added 20 points and 10 boards for the Grizzlies, who lost for the fifth time in eight games.

Before Harden caught fire the Grizzlies remained close, countering the Rockets' perimeter prowess with 60 points in the paint. But Memphis fell behind midway through the first and never reclaimed the early lead despite its interior edge. When the Grizzlies closed to within 44-42 on a Gasol jumper in the second quarter, Harden answered with four consecutive points. Harden put Memphis away for good in the third with three 3s, four free throws and his dunk.

NOTES: Rockets G James Harden produced his 20th 30-point, 10-assist game this season. Harden had eight such games in 2015-16. ... Grizzlies F Chandler Parsons started back-to-back games for the first time this season, finishing with two points and seven rebounds over 19 minutes. Parsons has been slow to return to form following multiple knee surgeries. He logged 23 minutes and posted seven points and four rebounds in Dallas on Friday night. ... Rockets G Eric Gordon set an NBA record for 3-pointers by a reserve, increasing his season total to 180. Bucks F Mirza Teletovic produced 179 3-pointers off the bench for the Phoenix Suns last season.

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