JAMES HARDEN scored a season-high 44 points to help the Houston Rockets cruise to a 110-95 victory over the visiting Portland Trail Blazers last night and snap a two-game skid.
The Trail Blazers were without leading scorer and rebounder LaMarcus Aldridge, who missed the game with an upper-respiratory illness, and had their five-game win streak snapped.
Harden had 31 in the first half to help the Rockets erase an early eight-point deficit and take a 20-point halftime lead. The Blazers didn't threaten after that and Harden went to the bench for good with about 4 minutes left and Houston up 107-86.
It was Harden's NBA-leading third 40-point game this season, with all of them coming this month. Harden, who leads the NBA in scoring, has had 11 games with at least 30 points this season, which also leads the league.
Damian Lillard led Portland with 18 points and CJ McCollum added 17.
Harden came just two points shy of his career high, set against Oklahoma City last season. He also had seven assists and five steals.
Jason Terry hit a three-pointer to become the third player in NBA history to make 2,000 three-pointers and push Houston's lead to 96-76 entering the fourth quarter. Ray Allen and Reggie Miller are the other players to reach the plateau.
In other games
* At Charlotte, Al Jefferson scored 22 points, Kemba Walker added 18 points and nine assists, and the Hornets extended their winning streak to a season-high three games with a 110-82 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
* At Chicago, Derrick Rose scored 29 points, Jimmy Butler added 27 points and 11 rebounds, and the Bulls snapped the Toronto Raptors' six-game winning streak with a 129-120 victory. Chicago, who has won three straight, got Rose and Taj Gibson back after each missed two games. Rose was ill and Gibson was out with an ankle injury.
* At Memphis, Alec Burks scored 23 points, Gordon Hayward added 21 and the Utah Jazz handed the Grizzlies their third straight loss, 97-91.
* At Dallas, Dennis Schroder scored 22 and Kyle Korver added 18 as the Atlanta Hawks held on for a 105-102 win over the Mavericks.
* At San Antonio, Tony Parker scored 26 points in his return from a five-game absence, igniting the Spurs to a season-high 37 assists and a 125-118 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. San Antonio shot a season-high 64 percent from the field in snapping a four-game skid.
* New York Knicks center Samuel Dalembert was fined $15,000 by the NBA for elbowing Toronto's Jonas Valanciunas in the face.
* Former NBA player Carl Herrera is out of intensive care and improving following a weekend shooting, the team he coaches and one of his sons said. Herrera, 48, was shot Saturday during an apparent robbery attempt at a restaurant on Margarita Island off Venezuela's Caribbean coast. Herrera was a power forward during the 1990s for Houston, San Antonio, Vancouver and Denver, scoring more than 2,400 points over a 9-year career.