HOUSTON (AP) — Chris Paul scored a season-high 31 points and James Harden added 21 as the Houston Rockets extended their NBA-best winning streak to 11 games with a 108-96 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night.
The Rockets have won 17 of their last 18 games to improve to 22-4, the best record in the league.
After allowing the Pelicans to stick around before putting them away late in their last game, the Rockets made sure this one was decided early. Houston led by one late in the first before scoring 25 straight points over the end of that quarter and the beginning of the second to make it 49-23 and cruise to the easy win.
Dwight Howard tied a season high with 26 points and had 18 rebounds and three blocks as the Hornets continued to struggle on the road, where they’ve dropped nine of their last 10 dating to Oct. 30.
Houston made 17 3-pointers and held the Hornets to just four.
The Rockets had a 14-point lead at halftime and used a 9-2 run, with five points from Harden, to open the third quarter and make it 72-51.
Charlotte scored eight straight points to cut the lead to 79-65 with about 3 1/2 remaining in the third. But Houston outscored the Hornets 12-4 to wrap up the quarter and take a 91-69 lead into the fourth. Harden and Paul each made a 3-pointer in that stretch and Eric Gordon added two more.
With Harden on the bench, the Rockets scored the last 14 points of the first quarter, with the last nine from Paul, to turn a one-point lead into a 38-23 advantage entering the second quarter.
Houston continued to pile on to start the second, scoring the first 11 points of the period to extend its run to 25-0 and make it 49-23 with 9:45 left in the half. The Rockets made six 3-pointers during that run, with three from Paul and one from Gordon.
The Hornets finally ended their scoring drought when Jeremy Lamb made a pair of free throws a few seconds after that, but they didn’t make a field goal until Kemba Walker hit a jumper with about eight minutes left in the second that made it 50-27.
The Rockets led 63-49 at halftime.
Hornets: Nicolas Batum returned after missing the last game with a sore left elbow. He had nine points and nine rebounds. ... Michael Carter-Williams received a technical at the end of the first quarter. ... Michael Kidd-Gilchrist added 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Rockets: Trevor Ariza played despite dealing with a sore left foot. He had 13 points and six rebounds. ... Luc Mbah a Moute injured his left shoulder crashing to the court after a shot just before halftime and didn’t return. ... Paul added 11 assists and seven rebounds.
Hornets: Host Miami on Friday night.
Rockets: Host San Antonio on Friday night.