Harden scores 35 points to lead Rockets to 107-95 win over Raptors

A big third quarter and a 22-point comeback wasn’t enough to get the Toronto Raptors past James Harden and the Houston Rockets on Tuesday.

Harden had 19 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter to lift the Rockets to a 107-95 victory over the Raptors, stretching their winning streak to six games.

Kawhi Leonard had 26 points to lead the Raptors (46-19), who dug themselves a 22-point deficit in the second quarter before making a game of it in the third. Pascal Siakam added 17 points, while Danny Green added 14 and Serge Ibaka chipped in with 10.

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Gerald Green added 18 points for Houston (39-25).

The Raptors were coming off a 112-107 overtime loss to former coach Dwane Casey and his Detroit Pistons on Sunday that saw Leonard sit for load management.

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Leonard was back for Tuesday’s much-anticipated battle with Harden and one of the league’s elite teams. But the first half was disastrous for the Raptors, who coughed up 19 points on turnovers and couldn’t buy a three-pointer, making just three of 13 shots from long range.

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The Rockets broke the game open with a 17-2 second-quarter run, and there was a smattering of boos from the capacity Scotiabank Arena crowd when the Raptors trudged off the court at halftime.

The Raptors roared out of the break with a 15-2 run of their own, outscoring the Rockets 34-14 in the third quarter — Siakam’s 15 points alone in the frame topped Houston’s — and led 71-69 with one quarter to play.

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The Rockets shot the lights out in the fourth, and when Harden drilled a three with just under six minutes to play, the long bomb was Houston’s seventh three-pointer of the quarter, giving the visitors a 14-point lead. Two free throws from Ibaka sliced Houston’s lead to nine points, but that was as close as Toronto would come. When Harden converted a three-point play with just under a minute to play, hundreds of disgruntled Raptors fans already had their backs turned, heading for the exits.

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The Raptors have the schedule on their side the rest of the way. Tuesday’s game was one of three games remaining in the regular season against teams that have a winning record, the fewest of any team in the league. They face Oklahoma City in a home-and-home series later this month.

Neither team led by more than five points in a messy first quarter that saw eight combined turnovers. The Raptors were just one-for-six from long distance and trailed the Rockets 23-19 to start the second.

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Clint Capela’s running layup put Houston up by 22 points midway through the second and capped the Rockets’ 17-2 run. Houston went into halftime up 55-37.

The Raptors’ next six games are against opponents with sub-.500 records, beginning Friday when they play in New Orleans. They’ll play in Miami on Sunday and in Cleveland on Monday before returning home to host the Los Angeles Lakers on March 14.

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