Harden lifts Rockets over Jazz

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – James Harden carried the load down the stretch once again as the Houston Rockets extended their winning streak to four games with a 102-97 victory over the visiting Utah Jazz on Monday.

Harden scored a game-high 47 points and contributed six rebounds, five assists and five steals as Houston (15-14) climbed above .500 for the first time since Nov. 23.

After Utah pulled even at 94-94 on a Rudy Gobert tip-in with 1:59 remaining, Harden sank a 3-pointer when Ricky Rubio and Royce O’Neale dropped under a screen set by Chris Paul. After Harden added two free throws, Utah cut the deficit to 99-97 on three Donovan Mitchell free throws with 35 seconds to go.

With 13.3 seconds left, Harden then buried another 3-pointer with Rubio defending, producing the final margin.

Mitchell scored 19 of his team-high 23 points in the second half. Gobert (18 points, 13 rebounds) and Jae Crowder (14 points, 10 rebounds) recorded double-doubles for Utah, the loser in four of its past five games. Rubio added 12 points but also committed seven turnovers.

P.J. Tucker scored 16 points on 4-of-7 3-point shooting for the Rockets. Paul chipped in 11 points, nine assists and four steals.

Utah mounted a stunning rally to open the third quarter, burying a flurry of 3-pointers while composing a 26-9 rally to the lead. Mitchell, held to just four points in the first half, scored a dozen in the third quarter to spark the Jazz.

Harden chimed in with back-to-back three-point plays before drilling a 3-pointer that extended Houston’s lead to 66-60. He added a vicious dunk over Gobert that sent the crowd into a frenzy, his second such dunk over an opposing big in three games.

In the fourth quarter, Harden kept it going. He wound up 14 of 31 from the floor and 15 of 16 from the foul line, though he hit just 4 of 12 3-point tries. Harden also committed five turnovers.

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