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11/15/2012 12:00 AM EST
Harden scores 30, Rockets beat Hornets 100-96
HOUSTON 100, NEW ORLEANS 96

By CHRIS DUNCAN
AP Sports Writer

HOUSTON (AP) -- James Harden is getting used to his role as the
go-to guy in Houston.



Harden scored 30 points, Omer Asik added 15 points and 12
rebounds, and the Rockets held off the New Orleans Hornets
100-96 on Wednesday night.



Greivis Vasquez scored a career-high 24 for the Hornets, despite
hurting his left ankle in the third quarter and briefly leaving
the game. Anthony Davis had only eight points on 2-for-7
shooting.



Harden went 10 for 20 from the field but only 1 of 7 from
3-point range in his third 30-point game since joining the
Rockets in a blockbuster trade with Oklahoma City on Oct. 27.



"It's taken seven games for me to just be the man, and know what
to expect and know how to handle every situation," Harden said.
"There are going to be games where, I don't know. There are
going to be a lot of experiences that I learn from, so I'm just
taking it one game at a time."



The Rockets outscored New Orleans 39-18 in the second quarter to
build a big lead, but the Hornets played better defense in the
second half to close the gap. Houston shot 58 percent (14 of 24)
from the field and hit six 3-pointers in the second period.



"When you have a quarter like that, it's hard to rebound," New
Orleans coach Monty Williams said. "But I thought the guys on
our team showed a lot of guts and character, getting back in the
game."



The Hornets couldn't quite come all the way back. Chandler
Parsons sank a pivotal 3-pointer and fadeaway jumper late to
help Houston win for the second time in five home games. The
Rockets also built big leads in the first two games of the
season, against Detroit and Atlanta, and had to fend off late
rallies to win in much the same way.



"We can't keep getting these double-digit leads in the first
half and give them away," Parsons said. "We've got to come out
there in the third quarter with energy and not allow that."



The Rockets took the floor while first-round draft pick Royce
White remained absent from the team. The 6-foot-8 White called
the team "inconsistent" in its efforts to help him cope with his
anxiety disorder and fear of flying, and he sent out a series of
often critical tweets throughout the day.



The team has said nothing publicly beyond a statement that said
White was "unavailable" and that it would support him going
forward.



After a slow start, the Rockets hardly seemed distracted.



Reserves Marcus Morris and Toney Douglas both hit a pair of 3s
early in the second quarter as the Rockets surged to a 47-38
lead. Houston started 7 for 10 from the field overall in the
quarter. Morris stayed on the floor when the starters returned,
and scored on consecutive drives to stretch the lead to 52-40.



Harden, the NBA's reigning Sixth Man of the Year, liked what he
saw from the Houston bench.



"They lifted us up," Harden said. "Toney and Carlos (Delfino)
and Marcus Morris really did a good job, coming in and bringing
that energy."



New Orleans defended the perimeter better in the third quarter
and trimmed the deficit to six. Vasquez, fourth in the NBA in
assists coming into the game, twisted his left ankle on a drive
late in the third quarter. He came out of the game and limped to
the locker room.



Houston led 85-76 after three, then gave away four turnovers in
the first 4 minutes of the final quarter. Vasquez returned and
guarded Harden, who swished a jumper from the top of the key for
a 95-88 lead with just over 4 minutes to go.



The 6-foot-9 Al-Farouq Aminu switched to guard Harden after
that, and Harden passed to Parsons for a 3-pointer with 3:27
remaining.



Vasquez then sank a pair of 3s to fuel a quick 8-0 Hornets run
that cut the gap to 98-96 with less than 2 minutes to play.
Parsons just beat the shot clock with an awkward fadeaway jumper
to put Houston up by four.



Aminu and Vasquez missed 3-pointers in the final 5 seconds, and
Houston held on.



Notes: Houston coach Kevin McHale missed his third straight game
since taking an indefinite leave to address a family matter in
Minnesota. Assistant coach Kelvin Sampson said the team still
has no timetable for McHale's return. ... Former Rockets center
Ralph Sampson was honored at midcourt during a timeout in the
second quarter. Sampson, the top overall pick in the 1983 draft
who guided Houston to the 1986 NBA Finals, was inducted into the
Naismith Hall of Fame in September. ... The Rockets' 39
second-quarter points and 64 first-half points were season
highs.

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