LOS ANGELES: James Harden scored 34 points and the Houston Rockets spoiled Blake Griffin’s NBA return from a right elbow injury by beating the Los Angeles Clippers 100-98 on Sunday (Monday in Manila).
Harden, the league’s second-best scorer behind former Oklahoma City teammate Russell Westbrook, also contributed seven rebounds and seven assists as the Rockets solidified their grip on fourth place in the Western Conference.
Houston improved to 44-22 while the Clippers slid into a share of fifth with the Dallas Mavericks at 42-25.
Griffin scored 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting, grabbed 11 rebounds, passed out eight assists, made two steals and blocked a shot in 41 minutes on the court after missing the Clippers’ previous 15 games since February 6 with an infection in his right elbow.
The Clippers went 9-6 since Griffin, averaging a team-best 22.5 points a game, underwent surgery last month.