Charlotte, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - James Harden scored 29 points and the Houston Rockets kept their hopes of a Southwest Division title alive with a 100-90 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.
The Rockets had seven players finish in double figures as they pulled even with the idle Spurs atop the division. They need to win their finale against the Jazz on Wednesday and hope the Spurs lose in New Orleans to claim first place and the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.
Josh Smith finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds off the bench, and Terrence Jones also recorded a double-double with 10 points an 11 boards in the win.
The Hornets have dropped five in a row overall and finished their home slate with a 19-22 record. They have lost nine straight meetings against Houston.
Brian Roberts scored a team-high 23 points, while Charlotte's starting backcourt of Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson combined to shoot 3-of-20 from the field for six points.
A close game turned in Houston's favor because of an 11-2 run spanning the third and fourth quarters. Clint Capela scored the first four points of the fourth to give the Rockets an 87-75 cushion, and the closest the Hornets got from there was nine.
"We made some stops (after halftime)," Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said. "We found some rhythm."
Harden scored 13 points in a back-and-forth first quarter that ended with the Rockets holding a slim 24-23 lead. Harden entered the game fractions of a point behind Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook for the NBA scoring title and sits at 27.5 ppg. Westbrook upped his average to 28.0 ppg heading into his last game.
"I felt like we did a pretty good job on him," Roberts said of Harden. "It's amazing that he has 29 (points) and it's an off night."
Houston went ahead by 10 in the second quarter, but a 13-2 run put Charlotte in front. Roberts, who did not play in the opening frame, made four 3-pointers and scored 16 points in the second, helping the Hornets pull even, 52-52, at the break.
The Rockets' 26 road wins this season are the second most in franchise history, one shy of matching the record set in 1996-97 ... Rockets center Dwight Howard sat out on the second game of a back-to-back ... Charlotte has not beaten the Rockets since Nov. 26, 2010 ... The Hornets wrap up their season Wednesday in Toronto.