Rockets close out home slate with rout of Suns

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Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) dribbles the ball around Phoenix Suns forward Josh Jackson (20) during the second quarter at Toyota Center. Image: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden flirted with a triple-double, Clint Capela posted a double-double, and the Houston Rockets closed out their home schedule with a 149-113 dismantling of the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.

The Rockets turned in their second consecutive blowout win on their home court to hold on to the third seed in the Western Conference.

Houston, which led by as many as 42 points in its 120-96 win over the New York Knicks on Friday, led 117-77 entering the fourth quarter against the short-handed Suns. The Rockets have won six straight, all by double digits by an average of 25.8 points per game.

The Rockets close their regular season at Oklahoma City on Tuesday.

Harden posted 30 points on 10-for-14 shooting with 13 rebounds and nine assists in only 29 minutes. Capela added 22 points and 13 rebounds, while Eric Gordon matched his career high of eight 3-pointers while producing 26 points on just 14 shot attempts.

The Rockets set an NBA record with 27 3-pointers, going 27 of 57 while closing their home schedule with a 31-10 record.

The Suns, missing a half dozen regulars, have dropped eight of their last 10 games and complete their schedule at Dallas on Tuesday.

Veteran guard Jamal Crawford scored 27 points off the bench, while Dragan Bender posted 19 points and eight boards. Rookie Mikal Bridges scored 19 points.

The outcome was hardly in doubt. The Rockets never trailed and extended to a 14-point lead by the 5:15 mark of the first quarter when Capela converted a Harden pass into a layup.

Phoenix managed to slice that margin to single digits late in the period, but the Rockets scored 27 points over the final 6:01 of the first half, with Harden and PJ Tucker drilling 3-pointers inside the final 30.4 seconds. When Tucker sank his with 0.3 seconds left, the Rockets took a 77-47 halftime lead.

Harden, who has scored fewer than 25 points only eight times this season, had 16 with just under five minutes remaining in the third. He poured in 14 down the stretch of that period, including a trey at the buzzer before watching the fourth from the bench with the other starters.

Reuters