Portland, OR – James Harden racked up 33 points with seven rebounds and six assists as the Houston Rockets won their fourth game in a row with a 116-98 decision over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday.
Jeremy Lin chipped in 22 points with eight assists and Greg Smith scored 19 for Houston, which has its longest winning streak since a five-game run from Dec.31-Jan.8.
Francisco Garcia added 11 points to fill in for Chandler Parsons, who sat with a calf injury. Houston remains one game out of sixth place in the Western Conference behind Golden State, which defeated the Phoenix Suns on Friday.
LaMarcus Aldridge's 32-point, 13-rebound performance in his return from a four-game absence with an ankle injury wasn't enough to keep the sputtering Trail Blazers from dropping a seventh straight game.
Wesley Matthews scored 18 and Damian Lillard had 11 points with seven assists in the setback.
"We need to check our hearts at the door," said Matthews. "We have six games left, we just lost seven. We're better than that."
Harden got going early, burying three from beyond the arc and scoring 17 in the first quarter to help Houston take a 35-31 lead into the second.
The Rockets then opened up a double-digit edge following the completion of a 9-0 run to start the frame and led by as many as 19 in the quarter following a driving score from Harden.
Aldridge, though, got Portland back into it as he recorded a double-double by halftime. With a pair of three-point plays, he spearheaded a quarter-closing 16-4 run and his jumper near the end of the period had Portland within 63-56 at the break.
Lin helped keep the Rockets in control, however, scoring seven straight points early in the third to put them back ahead by 12.
"We felt like they could do a good job on one side of the floor, but if we moved it to the second side they would struggle to shift their whole defense and have everyone be in position," said Lin. "We had everyone just trying to attack, attack the close out."
Portland got its deficit down to 88-77 with under a minute left in the third, but never came any closer. Smith scored Houston's first nine points of the fourth quarter to create a 101-86 spread.
The Rockets led by as many as 22 before the final buzzer.
Portland's Nicolas Batum sat for a second straight game with a labral tear in his shoulder ... The Trail Blazers were 2-for-20 from 3-point range ... The Rockets outscored Portland on the fastbreak 28-14.