The Rockets snapped a two-game losing skid with big help from James Harden who scored 44 points in the win against the Portland Trailblazers 110-95 at the Toyota Center.
Harden leads the league in scoring and his performance Monday night was his season’s best. He has had three 40-point games and 11 with 30 or more, which are both the most in the NBA this year.
The Rockets were eliminated from the first-round of the playoffs by the Blazers last year and although Harden denied he had those games in his mind Monday night, others believe he did.
"I know it's kind of like a weight off his back because of what happened in the playoffs against Portland," teammate Dwight Howard said. "And (Monday) he just destroyed them."
Harden added seven rebounds and five steals and was just two points shy of his career-high of 46. Howard contributed with 16 points and 13 rebounds and four assists.
The loss snapped the Blazers five-game winning streak; they were without all-star LaMarcus Aldridge who sat out with an upper-respiratory illness. He leads the team in both scoring and rebounding. The Blazers are also without their starting center Robin Lopez, who is recovering from a hand injury.
Damian Lillard led the Blazers in scoring with 18 and C.J. McCollum was right behind him with 17.
The Blazers are back in action Tuesday night when they travel to Oklahoma City to face the Thunder.
The Rockets get a few days to rest, as their next game isn’t until Friday when they visit Memphis to face Marc Gasol and the Grizzlies.