);
Houston Rockets

James Harden scores 41 as Rockets earn close win over Pelicans

james-harden-jrue-holiday-122918-ftr-nba-getty
James Harden guarded by Jrue Holiday (NBA Getty Images)

For the third consecutive game, James Harden finished with over 40 points in a Rockets win. Two nights after scoring 45 at home against the Celtics, the reigning MVP scored 41 points in a 108-104 win over the Pelicans Saturday night.

Harden's performance is a continuation of an offensive tear that began with his 50-point explosion in a win over the Lakers on Dec. 13. Saturday night marks the ninth-straight game in which he has scored over 30 points and the seventh consecutive game in which he finished with over 35.

MORE: Harden once again looks like an MVP

Houston, who improves to 20-15 on the season, has won nine of its last 10 games - Harden is averaging 39.4 points per game in that span.

The points came in a variety of ways against the Pelicans, as the 10-year veteran finished the night shooting 10-for-25 from the field - connecting on seven of his 17 3-point attempts. Harden was also a perfect 14-for-14 from the free throw line.

New Orleans, who falls to 16-21 on the season, used a balanced attack from starters Julius Randle (23 points), Anthony Davis (22 points), E'Twaun Moore (21 points) and Jrue Holiday (20 points) to keep things close, but the other seven Pelicans that saw action Saturday combined to score just 18 points on 7-for-21 shooting.

After beginning the season at 4-0, New Orleans is 12-21 in its last 33 games and has fallen to No. 14 in the Western Conference. In a highly-contested conference, each game matters in the grand scheme.

The Pelicans will need to put forth a stretch similar to that of the Rockets to re-insert themselves into the playoff picture; they will heavily rely on their MVP Anthony Davis to do so.

New Orleans takes the floor again Monday night when it hosts Minnesota while the Rockets return home to host the Grizzlies Monday.

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