NBA Basketball

Harden's triple-double lifts Rockets past Spurs

(TSX / STATS) -- SAN ANTONIO -- For the second consecutive game, it was defense down the stretch that proved the difference for the Houston Rockets.

A triple-double from James Harden did not hurt either.

Harden had his first triple-double of the season with 24 points, 15 assists and 12 rebounds and the Rockets came up with a huge defensive stop in the final seconds to hold off the San Antonio Spurs 101-99 on Wednesday.

Harden recorded his 10th career triple-double and led five players in double figures. Harden also missed two free throws with 1:27 left, missed a 3-pointer and was called for a charge with 27.9 seconds, setting up Houston's last defensive stand.

With the Rockets up two, San Antonio got the ball to Kawhi Leonard. Leonard drove the lane, two defenders contested and the layup attempt bounced off the rim. LaMarcus Aldridge grabbed the rebound but missed on a put-back attempt at the buzzer.

"We work extremely hard every single day to master the defensive end of the floor," Harden said. "Obviously we know we can score with the best of them, but defensively to hold a team like San Antonio under 100 points, it says a lot. We showed some fight, and in the fourth quarter they made a run that we knew they were going to make and we withstood it."

Before the last second defensive stop, Houston led 98-95 with 3:39 remaining before Leonard hammered home a dunk in transition off a steal by Danny Green. Ryan Anderson then poured in a deep 3-pointer to push Houston's lead to four points.

Anderson added 20 points for the Rockets (5-3). Houston's Eric Gordon scored 15 points, and Clint Capela and Sam Dekker hit for 12 and 10 points, respectively.

"We made some stops when we had to," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Ryan hit a big shot and James obviously had a monster game but he kind of ran out of steam. This is probably our best win but we have a long way to go."

Leonard led the Spurs (5-3) with 34 points. Aldridge had 14 points for San Antonio and David Lee added 10 points. It is the first time the Spurs have lost three games in a row at home since December 2014, and all three of those were in overtime.

"We gave up 63 points in the first half and 38 in the second," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "That's what we've been doing here at home, play a quarter or two of defense and a quarter or two of no defense. The consistency, in that regard, has not been good."

The Spurs' first-quarter home defensive woes continued as Houston rolled to a 33-24 lead via nine points and six assists from Harden and 63 percent shooting from the floor. San Antonio hit just 7 of its 21 shots from the floor and had to keep Leonard, who had 10 points in the period, on the floor for all 12 minutes just to keep things within reach.

Seven consecutive points from Lee started a 9-0, early-second-quarter San Antonio run that cut the Rockets' lead to 43-37. The Spurs rolled to the lead at 51-50 on a turnaround jumper by Aldridge, who had all nine of his first-half points in the final seven minutes of the second quarter.

Dekker poured in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send Houston to a 63-60 advantage at intermission.

Houston took an 85-74 lead late in the third as the Spurs missed eight straight field goals. Houston settled for an 85-80 lead going into the fourth before the Spurs got even closer.

A steal and a dunk by Green gave the Spurs an 88-86 lead with 9:39 left and then Harden took charge. He assisted on three consecutive baskets before going to the rim for a nifty layup of his own.

"We've got to do a better job of not getting into holes," Green said. Spurs with four steals. "If we played like we did the third and fourth quarters the whole game, it would help us a ton."

NOTES: Rockets G James Harden entered the game averaging 12.7 assists per game, then improved on that mark with 15 on Wednesday. Former Utah G John Stockton (12.3 in 1994-95) was the last player to average at least 12 assists per game in a single season. ... F Danny Green scored eight points in 26 minutes in his season debut for the Spurs. He missed the first seven games with a strained left quad. ... San Antonio held out PG Tony Parker (right knee soreness) for the third straight game and fourth time overall, although coach Gregg Popovich said he practiced well Tuesday.

Updated November 10, 2016

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