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Harden drops 31 to lead Rockets over Grizzlies




Houston Rockets’ Jeremy Lin (7) knocks the ball away from Memphis Grizzlies’ Marreese Speights (5) in the first half of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

HOUSTON  — James Harden scored 31 points with eight assists, and the Houston Rockets earned their third straight win, 121-96 over the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night.

The Grizzlies entered the game allowing an NBA-low 89.2 points a game. But they had no answer for Harden. He did all his scoring in the first three quarters and reached at least 20 points for an eighth straight game.

Houston used a big run midway through the second quarter to take the lead, and didn’t trail after that to break a four-game winning streak by the Grizzlies.

Mike Conley had 16 points for the Grizzlies on a night when leading scorer Rudy Gay finished with a season-low six points.

Memphis hadn’t allowed 100 points since the Clippers scored 101 in the season-opener – an NBA-best streak of 23 games.

The Rockets needed just over three quarters to reach the mark with a free throw by Jeremy Lin with 9 1-2 minutes left that made it 100-80.

It was the Rockets’ 13th straight home victory over the Grizzlies. Memphis hasn’t won in Houston since April 2006.

Lin added 15 points and 11 assists, and Marcus Morris scored 16 points.

Rockets took advantage of their speed in this one, outscoring Memphis 33-3 on fast breaks in the Grizzlies’ most lopsided loss of the season.

The Rockets led by 15 points late in the third quarter when Harden found Greg Smith in the lane for a dunk. Quincy Pondexter made a layup on the other end before Carlos Delfino knocked down a 3-pointer from 2 feet behind the line to extend the lead to 94-76.

Zach Randolph made a layup for Memphis to end the quarter with Houston up 94-78.

The Rockets had a six-point lead before Harden scored seven straight points to push Houston’s lead to 77-64 with seven minutes left in the third quarter. He started the run with a three-point play before jumping in front of a pass and taking it the distance for a layup.

The Grizzlies led by three points with about nine minutes left in the second quarter before Houston used a 13-3 run powered by six points from Omer Asik to take a 48-41 lead.

Memphis cut the lead to four later in the quarter. This time the Rockets used a 12-6 spurt to extend their lead to 64-54 at halftime.


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