Sacramento, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - James Harden scored 18 straight points to close the first quarter for Houston en route to a season-high 43-point effort, and the Rockets crushed the Sacramento Kings, 129-103, on Tuesday night.
The Rockets jumped out to a 24-12 lead with just under 4 1/2 minutes left in the opening frame when Harden went berserk.
Harden, who didn't play in the fourth quarter, went on a personal 18-5 run in the final 3:45 of the first and finished with 22 points after 12 minutes to help the Rockets to a 42-17 lead.
The Arizona State product also dished out eight assists to go along with three steals, joining Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only Rockets in the last 25 years with 40 points, eight assists, and three steals in a game.
"I was feeling good," said Harden. "Shots were falling, you get to the line, just playing my game, playing my game at a high level."
Dwight Howard finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Terrence Jones and Chandler Parsons had 11 and 10 points, respectively, in Houston's 10th win in its last 11 games.
The Rockets evened the season series at two games apiece in the final tilt between the two teams. Sacramento hasn't taken a season series from Houston since a four-game sweep in 2003-04.
Rudy Gay had 25 points and six assists, DeMarcus Cousins totaled 16 points with six rebounds, and Ben McLemore chipped in 15 points for Sacramento, which had its two-game winning streak snapped.
"For us to come out and play the way we did in that first quarter tonight is unacceptable," said Kings coach Michael Malone. "Us to allow them to score 42 points, get 18 fastbreak points in the first quarter is just crazy."
Houston kept its foot on the pedal to open the second, scoring eight of the first 10 points of the frame to take a 50-19 lead.
Sacramento, however, did win the quarter by a 34-27 margin and trailed 69-51 at the break.
Cousins received two technical fouls early in the third quarter after he was called for a shooting foul against Howard and was ejected. Cousins now has 15 technicals this season and is one away from receiving a one-game ban for excessive technical fouls.
The Rockets led by as many as 33 in the second half and the reserves played the entire fourth quarter in the lopsided win.
Harden was 7-for-10 in the first quarter - including 2-of-2 from deep and 6- of-7 from the free throw line. He also had four assists in the frame ... Houston shot 41-for-72 (56.9 percent) from the field ... The Rockets owned a 45-37 edge on the glass ... Isaiah Thomas finished with 12 points in defeat. Sacramento's backcourt of Thomas and McLemore shot a combined 8-for-30.