SACRAMENTO, Calif. >> James Harden broke out of his early-season shooting slump and scored 22 of his season-high 43 points in the second half to lead the Houston Rockets to a 116-110 win over the Sacramento Kings on Friday night.
Harden went into the game shooting just 29.4 percent from the floor but made 10 of his first 15 shots and finished with a season-high 13 assists. He finished 13-of-23 shooting and Houston won its third consecutive game.
Trevor Ariza had 18 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to help Houston hold off a late run by Sacramento. Clint Capela added 13 points and 12 rebounds and former King Marcus Thornton scored 16.
Omri Casspi had 22 points for Sacramento.
The Rockets opened the season with three straight losses but have bounced back nicely behind Harden’s recent surge. Last year’s MVP runner-up has averaged 36 points per game over his last three contests.
Houston led almost the entire game despite being without center Dwight Howard, who watched the game from the bench in his street clothes.
The Rockets built a 15-point lead in the first quarter but had trouble closing out the struggling Kings.
Sacramento pulled within 100-94 on Rudy Gay’s 3-pointer with just under 6 minutes left to play. Thornton and Ariza responded with back-to-back 3s to help Houston pull away.
Gay finished with 15 points and five rebounds. The Kings have dropped four straight.
Rockets: With his team playing a second back-to-back this week, coach Kevin McHale opted to give Howard the night off. Howard will be back in the lineup Saturday. . Backup G Patrick Beverly did not play because of a concussion. . F Terrence Jones missed his fourth straight due to a laceration on his right eyelid. . Houston has won six straight against the Kings dating to 2013.
Kings: C DeMarcus Cousins sat out his third straight game because of a strained right Achilles tendon. Cousins will also be held out of Sacramento’s next game before getting re-evaluated. . First-round draft pick Willie Cauley-Stein went to the bench with just over 2 minutes remaining with an apparent ankle injury.
Rockets: At the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night.
Kings: Host the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night.