James Harden scored 30 points to lead five Rockets in double figures, as Houston fended off a late rally to upend the New Orleans Hornets, 100-96, at Toyota Center.
Omer Asik totaled 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Rockets, who led by as many as 21 but needed a late bucket by Chandler Parsons to close out their second win in three games.
"We can't keep getting these double-digit leads in the first half and give them away," said Parsons, who recorded a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. "It's something we just have to clean up."
Greivis Vasquez paced the Hornets with a career-high 24 points, while Ryan Anderson chipped in 20 points and 12 boards off the bench. Anthony Davis, coming off his first career double-double in a win over Charlotte last Friday, was limited to eight points and four boards in his first road test.
The winning team in this series has overcome a double-digit deficit in five of the previous six meetings, and New Orleans nearly continued the trend. Vasquez hit a runner and converted a three-point play to spark an 11-point Hornets run that cut their 21-point deficit to 72-62 midway through the third quarter.
Houston's 85-76 lead entering the fourth was cut to two down the stretch when Vasquez bookended an Anderson putback with a pair of 3-pointers, pulling the visitors within 98-96 with 1:49 to play.
Harden missed from long range at the other end, but Patrick Patterson came down with an offensive rebound to extend the possession. Parsons then hit clutch a turnaround from 20 feet to make it a two-possession game again.
Anderson, Al-Farouq Aminu and Vasquez all missed from behind the arc in the final minute to end the comeback bid.
The Rockets trailed, 27-25, after the first quarter, but erupted for 39 points in the second to build a lead they never relinquished.
"You're not going to overcome quarters like that on most nights in this league," Hornets head coach Monty Williams said. "When you have a quarter like that it's hard to rebound."
Marcus Morris scored 11 of his 13 points in the frame, including a buzzer- beating 3-pointer, and the Rockets held the Hornets without a field goal over the final 6:23 to lead, 64-45.
This was a matchup of the two youngest teams in the NBA ... New Orleans made 20-of-21 attempts at the foul line ... Toney Douglas rounded out Houston's double-digit scorers with 12 points ... Vasquez also posted a game-high nine assists.