NBA regular season

Nets survive Rockets, but James Harden exits game

Nets survive Rockets, but James Harden exits game

HAMSTRING TIGHTNESS. James Harden leaves the game with 17 points.

Photo by Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

The Brooklyn Nets move up to 1st place in the Eastern Conference despite James Harden's 3rd quarter exit

Kyrie Irving collected 31 points and a season-high 12 assists as the Brooklyn Nets rallied in the 4th quarter to beat the Houston Rockets, 120-108, Wednesday night in New York.

Joe Harris added 14 of his 28 points in the 4th period and hit seven 3-pointers as the Nets moved into first place in the Eastern Conference and improved to 19-3 since February 10.

The news wasn’t all good for Brooklyn, though, as James Harden left the game due to right hamstring tightness. Harden scored 17 points before exiting with 4:48 remaining in the 3rd quarter as the Nets were starting to rally.

After holding on for a five-point win over the league-worst Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, Brooklyn started slowly Wednesday. The Nets did not take their first lead until late in the 3rd quarter, and they trailed throughout the first 6 minutes of the 4th.

Houston held a 101-95 lead on a layup by Avery Bradley with 7:28 remaining, but the Nets went ahead for good at 102-101 on an uncontested three-pointer by Harris with 5:38 left.

That was part of a game-ending 25-7 run. The Nets finished it off when Harris hit two three-pointers in a span of 13 seconds to push the lead to 120-105 with 47.3 seconds left.

Irving shot 12-of-25 from the floor. Nicolas Claxton added 12 points and 8 rebounds for the Nets, who shot 48.9% from the field and overcame an 18-point deficit. Brooklyn newcomer Blake Griffin hit two triples in the game-ending run and finished with 11 points.

Kevin Porter Jr scored 20 points for the Rockets, who blew a double-digit lead for the third time in 4 games. Danuel House Jr added 18 for Houston, which made 15 of its first 19 shots and sank 50% overall from the floor.

House scored 12 points and the Rockets held a 42-29 lead through the 1st quarter. Porter scored 9 points in the 2nd quarter and Houston held a 68-57 edge entering halftime.

Houston held an 82-69 lead on a basket by Jae’Sean Tate with 5:09 remaining in the 3rd, but Brooklyn closed the quarter with a 17-5 spurt to get within 87-86. –