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Houston's Howard, Hardin, Lin overwhelm Cavaliers

KRISTIE RIEKENAP Sports Writer Published: February 2, 2014 4:00 AM

By Kristie Rieken | Associated Press

HOUSTON -- James Harden returned from injury to score 28 points and Jeremy Lin had his first career triple-double to lead the Houston Rockets to their third straight win, 106-92 over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night.

Dwight Howard added 26 points and Lin came off the bench to tally 15 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

Harden sat out the last two games with a bruised left thumb. It showed no signs of bothering him Saturday, when he also had four assists and three rebounds.

Houston led by as many as 19 points in the first half before Cleveland opened the second half with an 11-0 run to take a 63-61 lead, its first since the opening minutes of the game.

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Cleveland's lead was short-lived as the Rockets roared back by scoring the next 11 points to go back on top 72-63 and hold on for the win.

Luol Deng had 24 points and Kyrie Irving added 21 with seven assists as Cleveland dropped its fourth in a row.

The Rockets used 3-pointers by Lin and Terrence Jones to fuel a 7-2 run early in the fourth quarter that made it 93-78. A layup by Howard followed by an alley-oop dunk by Harden with less than a minute to go pushed the lead to 106-90. Lin's 10th assist came on Howard's layup.

Houston was up by six a few minutes after it regained the lead in the third when another run -- this one 8-0 -- stretched the advantage to 82-68. Harden had a one-handed dunk before a two-handed slam by Howard on the next possession ended the run, brought the crowd to its feet and had Cleveland coach Mike Brown yelling for a timeout.

The Rockets led 84-73 entering the fourth quarter.

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Five straight points by the Cavaliers got them within seven points early in the second quarter. The Rockets answered with a 14-2 spurt to push their lead to 49-30 midway through the quarter. Lin made six consecutive points in that stretch and Omri Casspi added six points in the run.

The Cavaliers missed shots, committed turnovers and fouled on possession after possession as Houston extended its advantage.

Cleveland finally got back on track when Deng scored five quick points, including a 3-pointer, as the start of a 17-6 run that got the Cavaliers within 55-47. Deng had another 3 near the end of that run and Dion Waiters also hit a 3-pointer.

Another 3 by Waiters with just a few seconds left in the quarter cut the lead to six, but Harden knocked down a 3 just before the buzzer to leave Houston up 61-52 at halftime.

Cleveland had a four-point lead early before Houston scored 11 straight points capped by a dunk from Howard to take a 15-8 lead.


CLEVELAND (92) -- Deng 10-19 1-2 24, Thompson 2-6 2-2 6, Zeller 2-3 0-0 4, Irving 8-19 3-3 21, Jack 3-9 0-0 7, Waiters 8-14 1-1 19, Sims 3-7 1-2 7, Bennett 1-3 0-0 2, Miles 1-6 0-0 2, Dellavedova 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 38-87 8-10 92.

HOUSTON (106) -- Parsons 3-7 0-0 7, Jones 8-14 0-2 17, Howard 10-12 6-8 26, Beverley 0-5 0-0 0, Harden 10-17 5-6 28, Lin 6-12 2-2 15, Casspi 2-6 4-6 9, Motiejunas 2-7 0-0 4. Totals 41-80 17-24 106.



3-Point Goals--Cleveland 8-30 (Deng 3-8, Waiters 2-3, Irving 2-7, Jack 1-6, Bennett 0-1, Dellavedova 0-1, Miles 0-4), Houston 7-26 (Harden 3-8, Casspi 1-1, Jones 1-2, Lin 1-4, Parsons 1-4, Motiejunas 0-2, Beverley 0-5). Fouled Out--None. Rebounds--Cleveland 42 (Thompson 7), Houston 55 (Lin 11). Assists--Cleveland 23 (Irving 7), Houston 24 (Lin 10). Total Fouls--Cleveland 24, Houston 12. Technicals--Houston defensive three second. A--18,309 (18,023).

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