By KRISTIE RIEKEN AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden scored 28 points and Eric Gordon added 22 as the Houston Rockets cruised to their season-high ninth straight win, 118-106 over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night.
A night after Gordon ended a streak of 43 straight games where Harden led the team in scoring, the Beard was Houston’s top scorer again. But Gordon had another strong outing, making five 3-pointers for the third straight game and the fourth in five games.
The Rockets won despite a big performance by Kemba Walker, who finished with 40 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists as the Hornets lost their second in a row.
Houston led by as many as 28 in the third quarter but a big run by the Hornets cut the lead to 13 to start the fourth.
A three-point play by Walker cut the lead to 10 with about 3 1/2 minutes left. But a 7-2 spurt by Houston, highlighted by a dunk from Kenneth Faried, made it 116-101 with about 90 seconds left and Houston’s starters went to the bench.
Houston got 19 points and 15 rebounds from Clint Capela. Chris Paul had 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Harden had 10 assists and six rebounds.
A night after squeaking past the Mavericks 94-93, the Rockets led this one for all but the first few minutes. The Hornets scored the first five points with a hook shot from Willy Hernangomez and a 3 from Jeremy Lamb before the Rockets scored the next eight points to take a lead they would not relinquish.
Houston led by 19 after one and was up 71-44 at halftime.
Three-pointers by Lamb and Walker powered an 8-0 run by the Hornets that cut the lead to 19 early in the third. But Houston used a 10-2 spurt after that to pad the lead to 81-54. Harden had five points in that stretch and Gordon started the run with a 3.
Houston was up by 28 later in the third quarter when its offense went cold and the Hornets scored 15 straight points to cut the lead to 91-78 with about a minute left in the period. Walker had nine points, with two 3s and a three-point play, in that stretch. The Rockets missed eight consecutive shots to help the Hornets cut the deficit.
Houston ended a scoring drought of more than three minutes after that with an alley-oop by Faried, but Malik Monk ended the quarter with two free throws to get Charlotte within 93-80 entering the fourth.
Hornets: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist missed his second straight game with a strained left knee. … Lamb received a technical foul in the first quarter. … Frank Kaminsky had 15 points off the bench.
Rockets: Faried had 16 points and nine rebounds in his return after sitting out five games with a hip injury. He has scored at least 10 points in 16 of his 17 games with Houston. … It was Houston’s 11th game this season with at least 70 points in the first half.
Hornets: Play the third of four straight road games when they visit Washington on Friday night.
Rockets: Host Golden State on Wednesday night with a chance to sweep the season series for the first time since 2009-10.
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