James Harden scored 31 points and dished out seven assists, lifting the Houston Rockets over the New Orleans Hornets, 104-92, on Wednesday.
Omer Asik added 21 points and eight rebounds for the Rockets, who have won two in a row. Patrick Patterson tallied 15 points and 10 boards off the bench.
"There have been a couple of games like that this year where our offense was not really on point and we didn't score 120 or 130 points," Harden said. "We had to find other ways to do it and I think that is showing a maturity that we are growing. We are getting better. We are just finding ways."
Ryan Anderson ended with 18 points and seven rebounds to pace the Hornets, who have lost two straight to fall to 7-25 on the season. Greivis Vasquez donated 15 points and 14 assists.
With the game tied at 84 near the midway mark of the fourth quarter, the Rockets went on a 17-4 run to claim victory. Patterson scored the final seven points of the surge to give Houston a 101-88 margin with 48.2 seconds left.
"I thought we competed, but the biggest thing for us, our defense," Vasquez said. "We are a team that defends and the second quarter and the last quarter, we gave up 20 points and 30 points. We can't really trade buckets with them, we are not that good. It's really tough to win because we really aren't that talented as other teams."
Neither team led by more than four in a tight first quarter that featured four lead changes and eight ties, but the Hornets took a 23-21 edge into the second quarter.
Houston led for most of the second stanza and took a 49-42 lead on a pair of Harden free throws with 1:25 left. Robin Lopez made a hook shot at the other end to get the Hornets within five, 49-44, at the break.
Holding a 56-50 lead with 7:13 left in the third period, the Rockets went on a 6-0 spurt. Harden and Asik recorded back-to-back three-point plays to make it a 62-50 game.
Houston took a 74-66 edge into the fourth, but the Hornets started the final frame on a 9-2 run. Jason Smith's jumper cut the gap to 76-75 with 8:59 to play.
The Rockets improved to 2-0 against the Hornets this season ... Houston outscored New Orleans by a 60-28 margin in the paint ... The Hornets played without guard Eric Gordon (knee) ... Houston signed guard/forward James Anderson to a multi-year deal on Wednesday. To make room on the roster, the Rockets released guard Daequan Cook ... Lopez and Smith each had 12 points ... Chandler Parsons ended with 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets, who improved to 13-6 at home this season.