Harden’s 20 points power Rockets romp
James Harden scored 20 points, Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik added 13 points apiece and the Houston Rockets routed the cold-shooting Cleveland Cavaliers 116-78 on Friday night.
Thomas Robinson scored 15 points and Greg Smith grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds off the bench for the Rockets, who stayed in the No. 7 spot in the Western Conference.
Asik also grabbed 11 rebounds for Houston, which has won four of five games on its current homestand.
Shaun Livingston scored 14 points for the Cavaliers, who’ve dropped five in a row and nine of their last 11 games.
Cleveland failed to reach 20 points in each of the last three quarters and shot 36 percent (31 of 86) for the game. Houston also had a 54-32 edge in rebounds.
The Rockets started to widen the gap in the second quarter, stifling the Cavaliers’ offense and dominating Cleveland on the glass.
Harden returned after a long rest with 6:44 remaining in the first half, promptly stole the ball from Wayne Ellington and raced for a one-handed dunk. The Rockets ranked sixth in steals (8.51 per game) coming into Friday. Harden and Carlos Delfino sank back-to-back 3-pointers later in the quarter as the Rockets stretched the lead into double digits.
Livingston and Ellington sank jumpers in the final two minutes as the Cavaliers briefly seemed to find their shooting touch. But Delfino just beat the halftime buzzer with his second 3-pointer and Houston led 58-43 at the break.
Houston outrebounded Cleveland 14-5 in the second quarter and held the Cavaliers to 7-for-18 shooting. Cleveland’s shooting was even worse in the third quarter and Houston blew it open.
The Rockets found little defensive resistance inside and Asik and Parsons cut inside for easy baskets early in the third quarter to extend the lead. The Rockets continued to control the boards, particularly Asik, who was fouled making his 10th rebound with 6:49 left in the third quarter. He split two free throws, then dunked 30 seconds later for a 69-51 lead.
Harden and backup point guard Patrick Beverley sank 3-pointers in the last two minutes of the quarter and Houston led 87-61 heading to the fourth. The Cavaliers went 6 for 24 from the field in the third quarter.
Houston’s starters sat out the fourth and the reserves maintained a comfortable lead. Cleveland went 14 for 49 from the field in the second half.
The Cavaliers blew a 27-point lead in a 98-95 loss to Miami on Wednesday night and they were once again missing their top three scorers. Point guard Kyrie Irving (23 points per game) may miss the rest of the season with a left shoulder sprain, center Anderson Varejao (14.1 ppg) is definitely out for the year with a torn quadriceps and rookie guard Dion Waiters (14.7 ppg) is out indefinitely with a sore left knee. Cleveland coach Byron Scott said before the game that Waiters will be re-evaluated next week.
The Cavaliers have lost six in a row in Houston. ... Cleveland failed to reach 100 points for the ninth time in 11 games. ... Livingston has scored in double figures in eight of his nine starts with Cleveland. ... Harden reached 20 points for the 57th time this season. ... Asik recorded his 29th double-double of the season and his first since March 6. ... Jeremy Lin scored four points for Houston, snapping a streak of three consecutive games with at least 20. ... The Rockets has reached 115 points in 21 games this season, matching the most since 1990-91.