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Harden scores 31 as Rockets beat Hornets 104-92

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 2, 2013 at 11:21 pm •  Published: January 2, 2013

HOUSTON (AP) — When the shots weren't falling, James Harden helped the Houston Rockets find a new way to score.

Harden had 31 points and seven assists to lead the Rockets to a 104-92 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night.

When he couldn't find a rhythm from beyond the arc, Harden took to the paint, where he scored 16 of his points. For a team that ranks second only to New York in 3-pointers attempted and made, Houston outscored New Orleans 60-28 in the paint.

"I think that shows the maturity that we're growing and that we're getting better," Harden said. "Sometimes our offense isn't on point, but we're finding ways to score."

Harden has led the Rockets in scoring for 14 straight games, not including a Dec. 10 loss to San Antonio where he was sidelined with an ankle injury. He has posted 20-plus points in a career-best 14 straight games, second only to Kobe Bryant for the league's longest such streak this season.

Omer Asik had 21 points and eight rebounds, and forward Patrick Patterson scored 13 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter and added nine rebounds in the game for the Rockets.

Harden and Asik combined to score 18 of Houston's 25 third-quarter points.

Reserve Ryan Anderson had 18 points, and Greivis Vasquez had the third double-double of his last four games with 15 points and 14 assists for New Orleans, which lost for the 14th time in the last 16 games.

Just two days after hitting a season-high 16 3-pointers in a victory over Atlanta, the Rockets went cold from beyond the arc. Houston made a season-low five 3s on 24 attempts (20.8 percent.).

"They didn't hit the 3s that they normally hit, but they just kept attacking our guards," New Orleans coach Monty Williams said. "They played in our paint all night long."

The Rockets led 49-44 at halftime, falling short of 50 first-half points for just the second time in the last nine games. Houston entered Wednesday's game second in the league in scoring with 105.8 points per game.

"We're going to take a lot of 3s," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "It's just how our offense is and how our personnel is. We do live and die by that a little bit."

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