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Harden powers Rockets to 110-95 win over Blazers

December 23, 2014

HOUSTON (AP) — Houston’s James Harden scored a season-high 44 points to power the Rockets to a 110-95 victory over Portland on Monday, moving within one game of their NBA Western Conference rival.

On a day of heavyweight clashes between leading teams, Atlanta pulled off a narrow victory at Dallas, Chicago ended Toronto’s long winning streak, and San Antonio beat the Los Angeles Clippers in a high-scoring encounter.

Houston’s Harden had 31 in the first half alone to help the Rockets erase an early eight-point deficit and take a 20-point halftime lead. It was Harden’s third 40-point game this month.

The Trail Blazers were without leading scorer and rebounder LaMarcus Aldridge, who missed the game through illness, and had their five-game winning streak snapped.

Damian Lillard led Portland with 18 points.

Chicago scored a franchise-record 49 points in the fourth quarter to clinch a 129-120 shootout against Toronto.

Derrick Rose returned from illness and scored 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter, while Jimmy Butler added 27 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulls, who moved 1-1/2 games clear atop the Central Division.

Kyle Lowry scored 34 points for Toronto, which led by 12 in the third quarter but was overrun from then.

Atlanta’s Dennis Schroder scored a career-high 22 points in an even team scoring effort that gave the Hawks a 105-102 win at Dallas.

All five Atlanta starters scored in double figures as the Hawks completed a perfect three-game road trip, and they have won 13 of their past 14 overall, taking a half game lead in the Southeast Division.

Monta Ellis led the Mavericks with 18 points, 11 in a fourth quarter when they outscored the Hawks 39-23.

San Antonio’s Tony Parker scored 26 points in his return from a five-game absence with hamstring trouble, igniting the Spurs to a season-high 37 assists and a 125-118 victory over the Clippers.

San Antonio shot a season-high 64 percent from the field in snapping a four-game skid.

Tim Duncan had 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Spurs, who were coming of the rare and unwanted feat of losing three straight games in triple overtime.

Chris Paul had 25 points and nine assists to lead the Clippers, who have lost four straight to San Antonio.

Golden State eased to a 128-108 victory over Sacramento, with Klay Thompson scoring 25 points.

Utah handed once high-flying Memphis its third straight loss, with Alec Burks contributing 23 points to a 97-91 road victory.

Charlotte won a third-straight game for the first time this season, downing Denver 110-82, with Al Jefferson scoring 22 points.

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