NBA scoring leader James Harden netted 40 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and passed off nine assists Tuesday, sparking the Houston Rockets over the Phoenix Suns 127-118.
Harden scored half his points in the fourth quarter to give the Rockets their third triumph in as many meetings this season with Phoenix, including last month when Harden`s basket at the buzzer downed the Suns.
The Rockets improved to 36-16, third-best in the Western Conference behind NBA pace-setter Golden State and Memphis, which kept a three-game lead over Houston in the Southwest division.
The Suns fell to 29-25 with their fifth loss in six games. Phoenix stayed in the eighth and final West playoff spot but only one game ahead of New Orleans and Oklahoma City.
Josh Smith came off the bench to score 20 points for Houston while Patrick Beverley had 15 points for the Rockets.
Eric Bledsoe led Phoenix with 32 points while Goran Dragic added 20 points and P.J. Tucker scored 17.