Harden and Howard lift Rockets over Blazers
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) James Harden scored 33 points, Dwight Howard added 29 points and 13 rebounds, and the Houston Rockets beat the Portland Trail Blazers 116-101 on Tuesday night.
Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley each added 12 points for the Rockets (4-1).
Damian Lillard scored 22 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 21 to lead the Blazers, who fell after winning two in a row. Wesley Matthews added 19 points.
Playing for the fourth time in five nights, the Rockets bounced back from getting clobbered by the L.A. Clippers 137-118 Monday night in Howard's first trip back to the Staples Center since leaving the L.A. Lakers during the summer.
The seven-time All-Star has teamed up with Harden to give Houston one of the most talented duos in the NBA. Harden, who averaged 25.9 points last season, recovered from a poor shooting performance against the Clippers, hitting 11 of 18 from the field and nine of 10 from the free throw line.
Howard was dominant under the basket, as Houston outscored Portland 54-28 in the paint and outrebounded the Blazers 47-30. With center Robin Lopez sitting in foul trouble and his backup Joel Freeland out with a hip injury, the Blazers couldn't defend the rim.
The Blazers shot better than 55 percent and had six players score in double figures in a 115-105 victory over San Antonio Saturday, but shot only 41 percent from the field Tuesday and 65 percent from the line.
Houston led 55-50 at the half and then went on a 15-2 run to start the second half. The Rockets led by as many as 18 points before Portland started chipping away at the lead, getting within 93-88 on a jumper by Mo Williams. However, Beverley hit a 3-pointer and Harden converted a three-point play to push the lead back to double figures.
Portland started the game strong and led 19-10 before the Rockets put together a 19-4 run, with Howard and Harden each contributing eight straight points.
Notes: Howard will face the Lakers Thursday when the Rockets host his former team at the Houston Toyota Center. . Beverley returned after missing three games with a torn muscle in his stomach. .. Lopez finished with no points, six rebounds and five fouls in 18 minutes. . The teams split the series last season, with each winning one at home and away. However, the Rockets have won five of their last six in Portland.
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