James Harden delivered another exceptional scoring performance and the Houston Rockets swept a brief two-game swing against Eastern Conference opponents, cruising past the Orlando Magic 130-107 on Friday in Orlando.
Two nights after pairing 55 points with eight assists in Cleveland against the Cavaliers, Harden posted 54 points and seven assists to subdue the Magic, who've dropped three straight games.
Harden drilled a franchise record 10 3-pointers to lead Houston past the Cavaliers. He finished 10-for-15 from behind the arc against Orlando en route to his fifth 50-point game of the season.
Spectacular throughout, Harden produced one sequence that served as a microcosm of his night.
With the third quarter winding down, Harden blocked a shot attempt by Magic guard Michael Carter-Williams, snagged the rebound and darted up court before hitting a floater that beat the buzzer and extended the Houston lead to 96-78 entering the fourth quarter.
Harden had 38 points entering the final period, in which he posted 16 points to lead the charge.
Russell Westbrook chipped in 23 points, seven rebounds and six assists while Ben McLemore shot 6 of 7 on 3s for 18 points off the bench. P.J. Tucker (12 points, 11 rebounds) and Clint Capela (10 points, 11 rebounds) posted double-doubles for Houston, which hit 22 of 39 3s.
Orlando's Evan Fournier scored 20 of his 27 points in the first half, including 14 in the second quarter off four 3s. Aaron Gordon had 21 points and six rebounds while Terrence Ross added 13 points.
Harden and Fournier engaged in an entertaining scoring duel in the second quarter, with Harden scoring 18 points in that period to provide Houston a working margin entering the intermission.
Both teams shot exceptionally from deep prior to the break, with the Rockets connecting on 11 of 19 3s while Orlando went 9 of 21 from long range. But with Jonathan Isaac saddled with three fouls by the 7:04 mark of the second period, the defensive-minded Magic were left prone.
Harden punished Orlando repeatedly both inside and out, and after opting not to double team Harden in the first half, the Magic sheepishly attempted to do so to no avail in the second half.