James Harden pours in 61 points to lead Rockets past Spurs

HOUSTON (AP)— James Harden matched his career high with 61 points, including 27 in the first quarter, to lead the Houston Rockets to a 111-105 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night.

Harden hit three straight 3-pointers to give the Rockets a 103-100 lead and scored all of Houston’s points in a 13-2 run late in the fourth quarter.

Harden topped the 50-point mark for the eighth time this season, compared with 10 such performances from the rest of the league combined. He matched his career-best total set earlier this season against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

The NBA’s leading scorer surpassed the 30-point mark in the second quarter and the 40-point mark with nine minutes remaining in the third.

Before Harden’s late surge, the Spurs led by six points with four minutes left in the game. The Spurs had overcome a 15-point halftime deficit to tie the game at 81 entering the fourth quarter.

Harden was 7-of-10 from the field in the first quarter, including 3-of-4 from the 3-point line, and also went 10-of-12 from the free-throw line. His 27 points in the period were the second-most in franchise history, trailing only Vernon Maxwell’s 30 in 1991.

Harden finished 9-of-13 from 3-point range, 19-of-34 from the field overall and 14-of-17 from the free-throw line.

Houston has won 13 of its last 15 games and eight of its last nine at home.

Bryn Forbes led San Antonio with 20 points, while Derrick White added 18 and DeMar DeRozan had 16.

Houston led 36-24 at the end of the first quarter and 62-47 at halftime.

TIP-INS: Spurs — Davis Bertans’ recent struggles from beyond the arc continued. Bertans entered March shooting 46.9 percent from 3 on the season but after going 1-of-10 on Friday is shooting 30.3 percent this month. … The Spurs outscored the Rockets 56-36 in the paint.

Rockets — Houston has won six of the past eight games against San Antonio after losing nine of the previous 11 meetings. … Kenneth Faried (knee soreness) missed a second straight game despite coach Mike D’Antoni saying before the game that he had been cleared to play.

UP NEXT: Spurs visit Boston on Sunday. Rockets visit New Orleans on Sunday.

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