Charlotte, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - James Harden scored a game-high 31 points, including nine in a late third quarter surge that propelled the Houston Rockets to a 100-89 triumph over the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Charlotte led 66-65 with 2:44 left in the third before Harden supplied nine points, including the final seven, during a 13-2 quarter-closing run that sent Houston into the fourth holding a 78-68 advantage.
The Bobcats got as close as five following Al Jefferson's turnaround hook shot with 2:14 to play, but Chandler Parsons and Patrick Beverley buried back-to- back 3-pointers for an 11-point lead with just over a minute remaining.
Parsons finished with 11 points, while Dwight Howard, who had missed Houston's last three games with a left ankle injury, posted a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double for the Rockets, who have won four straight games.
"He just took over," Houston head coach Kevin McHale said of Harden fueling the team's third quarter run. "He's been fantastic playing the right way."
Kemba Walker paced the Bobcats with 22 points, while Jefferson supplied 20 points and 11 boards for Charlotte, which has dropped three of its last four games.
"I just think that we let (the Rockets) get us out of what we do," Jefferson said. "We didn't move the ball. We just have to get back on track."
Neither team led by more than four in a tightly-contested first frame that ended with Houston clinging to a 25-24 lead.
Josh McRoberts opened the second with a layup to put the Bobcats back in front, but Jordan Hamilton answered with consecutive triples to give the Rockets a 31-26 edge.
Houston held the lead for the remainder of the frame and carried a 54-50 spread into the second half, which Terrence Jones opened with a driving dunk.
Jones' layup with just under 7 1/2 minutes left in the third provided Houston with a 62-54 lead, but Michael Kidd-Gilchrist countered with a three-point play at the other end to spark a 12-3 Charlotte run that gave the Bobcats a one-point lead with under three minutes left in the third.
Harden missed a free throw late in the third quarter to snap his streak of 27 straight made free throws .... Houston improved to 22-5 against teams from the Eastern Conference this season ... The Rockets have won seven straight against the Bobcats ... Charlotte dropped to 20-16 at home this season ... Jones finished with 18 points and seven boards ... Gerald Henderson scored 13 for Charlotte ... Houston scored 21 fastbreak points, compared to just four for Charlotte.