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Suns burned by Rockets threes, James Harden

Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) is pushed out of bounds by Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) as forward Ryan Anderson, left, looks on in the second half of an NBA basketball game on Monday, Dec. 26, 2016 in Houston. Houston won 131-115. (AP Photo/Bob Levey)

HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden had 32 points and 12 assists in three quarters and the Houston Rockets never trailed in a 131-115 win over the Phoenix Suns on Monday night.

It was the 12th 30-point game this season for Harden, who made 12 of 15 free throws.

Houston led by at least 20 points for most of the night and was up by 27 entering the fourth quarter. Harden didn’t play after that, and coach Mike D’Antoni had the rest of his starters on the bench by the middle of the fourth quarter.

Montrezl Harrell had 14 points for his third double-digit scoring game in a row while filling in at center in place of Clint Capela, who is out for at least a month with a small fracture on his left fibula. Nene started the first game after Capela was injured before D’Antoni decided to go with Harrell, a second-year player out of Louisville.

Eric Bledsoe led the Suns with 24 points, and Brandon Knight added 21 off the bench.

Houston didn’t let up to open the second half despite having a 26-point lead entering the third quarter. The Rockets opened the period with a 12-4 spurt to extend their advantage to 81-47 with about 10 minutes left in the third. Patrick Beverley got things going with a 3-pointer, and Harden added a 3.

The Rockets led by a basket early in the first quarter before using a 14-4 run to make it 26-14 with about five minutes left in the quarter. Harden had six points in that span, and Harrell added five.

The Suns missed seven shots as Houston built the lead, including two layups on a single possession.

Sam Dekker made two 3-pointers in the opening minutes of the second quarter to help extend the edge to 45-25 with about 10 minutes until halftime. Houston remained up by 20 late in the second quarter before outscoring the Suns 8-2 the rest of the half to take a 69-43 lead into halftime.


Suns: Bledsoe received a technical foul in the third quarter. … Devin Booker fouled out with 7.9 seconds left in the third quarter. He finished with 16 points. … Dragan Bender had 11 points and 13 rebounds.

Rockets: The Rockets have won 12 games this month, which is their most ever in December. … The Rockets had 69 points in the first half to give them at least 60 points before halftime for the 17th time this season. … Rookie C Chinanu Onuaku made his NBA debut in the fourth quarter. He finished with six points and three rebounds. … Trevor Ariza tied a season high with 10 rebounds. … Beverley left the game in the fourth quarter with a bruised left thigh.


The Suns visit San Antonio on Thursday night.

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