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Harden scores 29 points to lead Rockets over Kings

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Associated Press
4/14/2013 9:48:56 PM
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HOUSTON -- James Harden thinks the Houston Rockets have only some minor tinkering to do before the playoffs begin. Otherwise, everything seems to be working fine.

Harden had 29 points and nine assists, Omer Asik had 10 points and 12 rebounds and Houston cruised to a 121-100 win over the Sacramento Kings in the Rockets' regular-season home finale Sunday night.

Jeremy Lin added 15 points for the Rockets, who've won nine of their last 12 home games. The playoffs start this weekend, and Harden says the Rockets just need to refine minor details between now and then.

"It's about improving our small things, little detailed things," Harden said. "I don't think the home-run plays are going to get us over the top. I think the small things are going to help us be successful in this post-season."

The Rockets climbed into sixth place in the Western Conference. They have the same record as Golden State (45-35) but own the tiebreaker after winning the season series with the Warriors 3-1. Houston plays Phoenix on Monday and finishes the regular season against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.

Chandler Parsons, who sat out the previous four games with a strained right calf, says the Rockets want to win out and secure their highest possible seed, regardless of the matchup. If the playoffs started now, the Rockets would face Denver, which won all four regular-season matchups.

"Those four games are over with," Parsons said, "and it's tough to beat a team eight times in one season. I'm confident, no matter who we play."

The Rockets didn't get caught looking ahead against the lowly Kings, building an 18-point halftime lead. Harden had 23 points at the break on 9-of-11 shooting, with his only 3-pointer early in the third quarter extending the lead to 24.

Parsons was the first starter to come out, departing with 5:06 left in the third quarter and Houston leading 82-56. Harden was the only starter who played more than 30 minutes and joined the others on the bench for the fourth.

The Rockets have won six of eight overall.

"I think we're clicking at the perfect time," Parsons said. "We're playing so unselfishly, we're playing for each other, we're all on the same page and know our roles and our responsibilities. I think we can't be playing any better than we are right now."

John Salmons scored 14 points and Isaiah Thomas had 10 points and 10 assists for the Kings.

"That wasn't really a fun event there," Kings coach Keith Smart said.

Houston's reserves maintained a comfortable lead in the final quarter. Carlos Delfino scored 14 and first-round pick Terrence Jones had nine points and a season-high five blocks.

The Rockets shot 54 per cent (45 of 83) and finished 29-12 at the Toyota Center in the regular season -- their best home record since they went 33-8 in 2008-09.

Parsons showed no lingering signs of the calf injury, finishing an early fast break with a reverse layup. Harden had 10 points and three assists in the first eight minutes and Houston started building its lead.

DeMarcus Cousins shoved Greg Smith after a layup and earned a technical foul, his NBA-leading 16th of the season. Harden sank the ensuing free throw and Houston led 27-19.

The Rockets went 14 for 23 from the field in the first quarter then opened the second with a 7-0 burst to stretch the gap to 16. Sacramento missed five straight shots until Patrick Patterson hit a hook shot. Toney Douglas, who was traded by Houston with Patterson and Cole Aldrich to the Kings just before the deadline, hit a 3 and the Kings went on an 11-0 run to cut the deficit to four.

Harden faked out Jimmer Fredette on a driving layup, but Aldrich blocked a shot by Asik and Salmons converted a three-point play for Sacramento. Parsons and Harden made consecutive 3-pointers to put Houston back on track. Houston held Sacramento scoreless for the last four minutes of the first half, finishing with a 14-0 run to lead 62-44.

Notes: The Kings have lost six of their last seven. ... Sacramento reached 100 points for the 25th time in its last 30 games. ... The Rockets have hit 848 3-pointers this season, passing the previous NBA record set by Orlando (841) in 2009-10. The New York Knicks had already passed the Magic's mark with 868 3s this season. ... Houston's 29 home wins are the third-most in a season since the franchise moved to the Toyota Center before the 2003-04 season.

James Harden (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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