ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — With their playoff hopes potentially hinging on each game down the stretch, the Houston Rockets can't afford to give away wins.
Thanks to what are becoming familiar late-game heroics by James Harden, those postseason prospects remain very much in sight.
Harden scored 24 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter, as the Rockets rallied for a 118-110 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday night.
The Rockets stopped a two-game skid and ended a five-game losing streak to the Magic. Houston trailed by two late in the game, before using an 11-0 run to seize control. Chandler Parsons and Carlos Delfino each added 21 points.
"All these games are going to count, especially if we want to make the playoff push," Harden said. "We try not to (think about it), because we try not to get sidetracked by thinking about too many other things."
Tobias Harris scored a career-high 27 points to lead Orlando, followed by Arron Afflalo with 19 and Niklola Vucevic with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
It was just the latest disappointing finish for a Magic team that has dropped two in a row and 30 of their last 34.
"We went out there tonight and played a heck of a game, brought a lot of energy, and battled to the end of the game," Harris said. "It just shows that as a team we're making steps. ... If we can just keep building on this, I think that would be good for us."
For three quarters the Magic actually seemed like the crisper team on both ends, spurred by the play of the second-year Harris.
They took a one-point lead into a fourth quarter that saw the lead change throughout.
The Magic reached the century mark first at 100-98, before turnovers and bad possessions led the Rockets' spurt, which put them up 109-100 with 3:28 to play.
Harris finally answered with a basket, but Houston's Delfino responded with a 3-pointer on the other end to grow the lead to 112-102.
E'Twaun Moore hit a jumper to cut it to 112-107, and Orlando then got the ball back on a miss by Houston. But Afflalo stepped out of bounds on the ensuing possession — the Magic's 16th turnover of the night — and the Rockets were able to close it out at the free-throw line.
The Magic had eight turnovers in the first three quarters, but nine in the final 12 minutes.
They also lost despite shooting a season-high 56 percent (44 for 78) on the night.