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HOUSTON – James Harden scored 28 points and the Houston Rockets used a huge third quarter to turn a close game into a blowout in a 112-86 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night.

Houston (43-19) has won four in a row. Indiana (46-16) dropped into a tie with Oklahoma City for the league lead.

Harden scored 16 in Houston’s 38-point third quarter, which turned a three-point lead into a 29-point advantage. He also got into a dust-up with Indiana’s Evan Turner that resulted in both players receiving technical fouls.

David West had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers, losers of three straight for the first time this season.

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Dwight Howard finished with 15 points and seven rebounds for the Rockets, who beat defending league champion Miami 106-103 on Tuesday.

Mavericks waste 30-point lead, but recover to beat Portland

DALLAS – Dirk Nowitzki says he wasn’t thinking about the last time the Dallas Mavericks blew a 30-point lead and lost.

The biggest collapse in franchise history was a long time ago, and he was too busy trying to make sure it didn’t happen again.

Nowitzki scored 22 points, Devin Harris made the go-ahead shot in the final minute and the Mavericks rallied in the fourth quarter after blowing their huge first-half lead, beating the Portland Trail Blazers 103-98.

“They came back a lot quicker than we wanted it to be, but we kept fighting and got the win,” Nowitzki said.

LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 30 points and 17 rebounds for Portland, including 18 points in the third quarter when the Blazers went in front for the first time at 69-67 after trailing 44-14 early in the second quarter.

Nowitzki didn’t pause to remember Dec. 6, 2002, when the Mavericks lost to the host Los Angeles Lakers 105-103 after leading 66-36 early in the third quarter.


Rajon Rondo scored 20 points and the host Boston Celtics dominated the boards to beat Brooklyn 91-84 and stop the Nets’ winning streak at four. Boston outrebounded the Nets 62-37, an important advantage because it turned the ball over 28 times, twice as many times as Brooklyn.

Al Jefferson scored 28 points and Charlotte defeated Cleveland 101-92 for its sixth straight home victory.

Marc Gasol had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Memphis used stout defense to defeat host Chicago 85-77. The Bulls had won 10 of their previous 12.

• Ex-Washington Huskies player Terrence Ross scored 18 points to lead Toronto over visiting Sacramento 99-87. Ross made 6 of 8 three-point shots.

Carmelo Anthony scored 18 of his 29 points in the first quarter, sending the host New York Knicks to a 108-81 victory over Utah.

Phil Jackson has been offered a front-office job by the Knicks. Jackson, 68, recently met with Knicks owner James Dolan and plans to make a decision next week, the Daily News reported, citing an anonymous league source.

Jackson, who has won a record 11 NBA titles as a coach, repeatedly has said he will not coach again.

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