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Harden has 33 points and Houston defeats Portland 116-98 for 4th straight win

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    Houston Rockets guard James Harden, left, plays tight defense on Portland Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Friday, April 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Don Ryan) (The Associated Press)

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    Houston Rockets forward Greg Smith, left, shoots over Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Friday, April 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Don Ryan) (The Associated Press)

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    Houston Rockets center Omer Asik, right, from Turkey, reaches in on Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Friday, April 5, 2013.(AP Photo/Don Ryan) (The Associated Press)

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    Houston Rockets guard Greg Smith, right, gets his hand caught in the net as he and teammate Omer Asik, left, from Turkey, double-team Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge under the basket during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Friday, April 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Don Ryan) (The Associated Press)

James Harden had 33 points and the short-handed Houston Rockets edged closer to clinching a playoff spot with a 116-98 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.

Jeremy Lin added 22 points to help the Rockets to their fourth straight victory. Houston (43-33) remained in seventh place in the Western Conference — three games in front of the Los Angeles Lakers — for their first playoff appearance since 2008-09.

LaMarcus Aldridge returned from an ankle injury with 32 points and 13 rebounds for the Blazers (33-43), who matched their season-worst slide with a seventh straight loss.

The Rockets were without forward Chandler Parsons because of a right calf injury he sustained late in Houston's 112-102 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.