Toronto, ON (SportsNetwork.com) - DeMar DeRozan pumped his chest after knocking down a jumper from the left elbow over James Harden to set a new career high.
He celebrated even more when Trevor Ariza's two attempts at tying the game from beyond the arc were off the mark at the other end.
DeRozan netted 12 of his 42 points in the fourth quarter and the Toronto Raptors defeated the Houston Rockets 99-96 on Monday night.
"He had it going," Harden said.
DeRozan was 14-of-27 from the field, 12-of-17 from the foul line and also pulled down a career-high-tying 11 rebounds for the Raptors, who moved a game behind Chicago for the third seed in the Eastern Conference.
"The most important thing, not only the points, was his defense," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said of DeRozan. "I thought his defense and rebounding was as solid as anything else, which made it an all-around excellent game for him."
Jonas Valanciunas posted 15 points and nine boards and Amir Johnson ripped down 16 rebounds in the triumph. Toronto All-Star guard Kyle Lowry did not dress due to a back injury.
Harden poured in 31 points for Houston, which had a four-game winning streak snapped.
Dwight Howard was held out for rest after returning three games ago from a knee injury he suffered Jan. 23 against Phoenix.
Ariza momentarily staked Houston to a 96-95 edge with 1:44 left after connecting on a wide-open 3-pointer from the right corner. DeRozan, though, drove the right wing, spun and hung in the air before converting a layup to put Toronto back in front.
Ariza's driving hook didn't go and DeRozan was fouled on a jumper with 45.4 seconds to play, but he missed both attempts. There was a tie-up after the second missed bonus shot between Johnson and Harden.
Johnson won the tip and DeRozan was isolated against Harden on the left side of the floor. DeRozan crossed over on Harden along the left wing, rose up and nailed a contested jumper from the elbow with 18.1 ticks on the clock to make it a 99-96 game.
Ariza's desperation leaning 3 from the right wing ricocheted off the backboard, but Josh Smith corralled the offensive rebound. He kicked it back out to Ariza, but his second long-distance shot clanked off the back of the rim.
Earlier, the game was tied 27-27 following a quarter of play and Houston led 52-48 at the break.
Toronto outscored the Rockets 26-24 in the third to get within 76-74 heading into the final frame.
The Raptors have beaten the Rockets eight straight times at Air Canada Centre ... Toronto, which improved to 26-13 at home this season, will play six of its next seven games on the road ... Houston announced Monday that guard Patrick Beverley will miss the remainder of the season following left wrist surgery.