HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden scored 30 points in just three quarters as the Houston Rockets broke their NBA record by making 27 3-pointers in a 149-113 win over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night.
Eric Gordon led the 3-point brigade by tying a career high with eight, Harden added five, P.J. Tucker had four and Danuel House three.
Gary Clark tied the record with a little over three minutes to play and Houston missed the next four before Austin Rivers broke it with 1:09 remaining. He crouched a bit and pointed at the Phoenix bench after the make as fans bellowed: “Threeeeeeee!” The Rockets have made 26 twice this season with the last time coming Tuesday at Sacramento.
The Rockets had a 10-point lead after one and a 43-point second quarter allowed them to tie a season high with 77 points in the first half to take a 30-point lead into halftime.
Houston led by 15 with just more than four minutes left in the second before ending the quarter with a 21-6 spurt to pad the lead. Harden had 10 points in that span and Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker added 3-pointers to help the Rockets turn this one into a blowout early.
Harden, who had 13 rebounds and nine assists, scored 16 points in the third quarter, capped by a 3-pointer just before the buzzer which gave Houston a 40-point advantage entering the fourth quarter. Harden made the shot and held his follow through for a couple of seconds before walking to bench — where he’d remain for the rest of the night with the game well in hand.
It was the second straight game in which Harden sat out the entire fourth quarter, giving the league’s leading scorer, who averages almost 37 minutes a game, some much-needed rest as the playoffs approach.
Associate head coach Jeff Bzdelik coached the Rockets for the second straight game with coach Mike D’Antoni out with the stomach flu. It’s unclear whether D’Antoni will be healthy in time to travel with the team to Oklahoma City for Tuesday night’s game.
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Harden wasn’t the only one who sat in the final period, with all of Houston’s starters getting a little break in this lopsided game.
Jamal Crawford had 27 points off the bench for the Suns with rising stars Devin Booker and Kelly Oubre out for the season with injuries.
Suns: Richaun Holmes missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle. … Mikal Bridges and Dragan Bender scored 19 each.
Rockets: Harden has scored at least 20 points in 56 straight games. … The Rockets have made at least 20 in six of their last 12 games and 18 times this season. … Clint Capela added 22 points and 13 rebounds.
Suns: Play the season finale at Dallas on Tuesday night.
Rockets: Wrap up the regular season at Oklahoma City on Tuesday night.
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