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Harden's 31 leads Rockets' 135-103 rout of Clippers

LOS ANGELES (AP) �� The NBA playoffs are still days away. Tell that to the Houston Rockets, who have their postseason mentality locked in.

James Harden scored 31 points, Chris Paul added 29, and the Rockets routed the Los Angeles Clippers 135-103 on Wednesday night in a potential playoff preview.

"(Chris) is dialed in, and James, too," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said. "When they play like that, it's pretty tough to lose. We played unbelievably."

Clint Capela had 24 points and 15 rebounds to help the Rockets win their fourth in a row. They showed little fatigue in cruising past the NBA's hottest team while playing their last back-to-back of the season.

"It's the best we've played and it's the right time," Harden said.

The Rockets currently own the third seed in the Western Conference and the Clippers are sixth, which would pair them in the first round.

"It'd be a tough series," Paul said. "They're very disciplined."

Asked how the Clippers would match up, coach Doc Rivers said, "If we go by tonight, not very well. But we're a much better team than we showed."

Paul stunned the crowd by hitting a deep 3-pointer that beat the buzzer to end the third, in which the Rockets outscored the Clippers 34-20.

Rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Clippers with 20 points and Danilo Gallinari added 16. They had won an NBA-best 13 of 15 coming in, but lost for the first time in three meetings with Houston this season.

"Every once in a while, you get the (expletive) kicked out of you," said Lou Williams, who had 14 points off the bench. "We hadn't had one of these in three, four months, so we were due."

The Rockets set the tone early, shooting 64% in the first quarter.

Houston stretched its lead to 22 in the second before the Clippers closed on a 9-2 run to trail 68-53 at halftime.

Harden and Paul dominated the third. First, Paul ran off six straight points and later Harden scored eight in a row. Paul's back-to-back 3-pointers sent the Rockets into the final quarter leading 102-73.

"We only got, what, three more games now? Four? To get ready for the great grind of the playoffs," Paul said. "Everybody's just trying to get going."

TIP-INS

Rockets: They had lost eight of their last 13 against the Clippers at Staples Center. ... They improved to 8-4 in the second game of a back-to-back. ... The game reunited G Austin Rivers with his father Doc. The younger Rivers is averaging 8.2 points off the bench since signing as a free agent at Christmas.

Clippers: G Patrick Beverley (right hip pointer) rested. ... The teams played for the first time since late October. The Clippers won the first two meetings, but several players from both teams either didn't play in those games or were later traded. ... Clipper Darrell razzed Paul in his first trip to the free throw line. After making both, Paul tapped his chest and nodded in Darrell's direction. ... Rapper Ty Dolla $ign sat courtside with a small dog in his lap.

MOURNING NIPSEY

Harden is one of several athletes mourning the shooting death of rapper Nipsey Hussle in Los Angeles on Sunday.

"He was powerful. Not just to a certain dynamic or a certain city, but just to the world," Harden said. "He was a leader. He was so many things. His life got taken away off nonsense, off B.S. It's just been sad. Not only myself but a lot of people around this world is affected by it. It just doesn't seem real."

UP NEXT

Rockets: Host New York Knicks on Friday.

Clippers: Host Lakers on Friday.

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Key Players
J. Harden
13 SG
L. Williams
23 SG
26.5 Min. Per Game 26.5
20.3 Pts. Per Game 20.3
5.3 Ast. Per Game 5.3
2.9 Reb. Per Game 2.9
44.1 Field Goal % 42.9
44.0 Three Point % 43.0
87.9 Free Throw % 87.4
+ 2 Johnathan Motley made layup, assist by Sindarius Thornwell 0:22
  Offensive rebound by Johnathan Motley 0:26
  Tyrone Wallace missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:28
+ 2 Johnathan Motley made jump shot, assist by Tyrone Wallace 1:05
  Offensive foul on Tyrone Wallace 1:17
  Offensive foul on Tyrone Wallace 1:17
  Austin Rivers missed 2nd of 2 free throws 1:24
+ 1 Austin Rivers made 1st of 2 free throws 1:24
  Shooting foul on Tyrone Wallace 1:24
  Jerome Robinson missed 3-pt. jump shot 1:27
  Shooting foul on Tyrone Wallace 1:40
Team Stats
Points 135 103
Field Goals 47-88 (53.4%) 38-81 (46.9%)
3-Pointers 18-38 (47.4%) 8-26 (30.8%)
Free Throws 23-29 (79.3%) 19-31 (61.3%)
Total Rebounds 56 46
Offensive 12 9
Defensive 36 29
Team 8 8
Assists 22 27
Steals 5 10
Blocks 6 2
Turnovers 15 15
Fouls 29 22
Technicals 0 0
29 PTS, 4 REB, 7 AST
20 PTS, 4 REB, 4 AST
1234T
away team logo Rockets 51-28 39293433135
home team logo Clippers 47-32 26272030103
Team Stats
away team logo Rockets 51-28 108.5 PPG 42.9 RPG 18.3 APG
home team logo Clippers 47-32 114.7 PPG 40.2 RPG 25.3 APG
Key Players
J. Harden SG 31.6 PPG 6.8 RPG 6.6 APG 41.3 FG%
S. Gilgeous-Alexander PG 13.7 PPG 2.7 RPG 3.2 APG 46.7 FG%
Top Scorers
J. Harden SG 31 PTS 7 REB 7 AST
S. Gilgeous-Alexander PG 20 PTS 4 REB 4 AST
53.4 FG% 46.9
47.4 3PT FG% 30.8
79.3 FT% 61.3
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
J. Harden 31 7 7 9/15 3/7 10/12 3 30 0 0 6 1 6 +16 46
C. Paul 29 4 7 10/19 5/8 4/4 3 26 1 1 2 1 3 +23 47
C. Capela 24 15 1 11/17 0/0 2/4 1 29 0 2 2 7 8 +24 41
E. Gordon 15 0 1 5/10 5/10 0/0 3 30 0 1 0 0 0 +31 18
P. Tucker 0 4 0 0/2 0/1 0/0 2 27 2 1 1 1 3 +15 6
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
J. Harden 31 7 7 9/15 3/7 10/12 3 30 0 0 6 1 6 +16 46
C. Paul 29 4 7 10/19 5/8 4/4 3 26 1 1 2 1 3 +23 47
C. Capela 24 15 1 11/17 0/0 2/4 1 29 0 2 2 7 8 +24 41
E. Gordon 15 0 1 5/10 5/10 0/0 3 30 0 1 0 0 0 +31 18
P. Tucker 0 4 0 0/2 0/1 0/0 2 27 2 1 1 1 3 +15 6
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
D. House Jr. 13 6 3 3/4 3/3 4/4 5 21 0 0 1 0 6 +23 24
A. Rivers 11 3 3 4/9 1/4 2/3 2 31 0 1 0 0 3 +19 21
K. Faried 5 4 0 2/6 0/1 1/2 5 17 2 0 1 1 3 +7 10
G. Clark 5 3 0 2/5 1/4 0/0 1 6 0 0 1 1 2 -1 7
Nene 2 1 0 1/1 0/0 0/0 2 6 0 0 0 0 1 +5 3
C. Chiozza 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 6 0 0 1 0 0 -1 -1
G. Green 0 1 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 2 6 0 0 0 0 1 -1 1
I. Shumpert - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
V. Edwards - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I. Hartenstein - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Duval - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 135 48 22 47/88 18/38 23/29 29 235 5 6 15 12 36 +160 223
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
S. Gilgeous-Alexander 20 4 4 8/16 1/3 3/5 2 32 2 0 3 2 2 -8 31
D. Gallinari 16 4 1 6/12 1/3 3/3 3 24 0 0 1 0 4 -16 21
L. Shamet 11 4 4 4/7 2/4 1/2 2 35 0 0 1 1 3 -21 22
G. Temple 5 0 2 2/3 0/1 1/2 1 17 0 0 2 0 0 -6 7
I. Zubac 5 8 1 1/3 0/0 3/4 2 20 3 1 1 2 6 -8 18
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
S. Gilgeous-Alexander 20 4 4 8/16 1/3 3/5 2 32 2 0 3 2 2 -8 31
D. Gallinari 16 4 1 6/12 1/3 3/3 3 24 0 0 1 0 4 -16 21
L. Shamet 11 4 4 4/7 2/4 1/2 2 35 0 0 1 1 3 -21 22
G. Temple 5 0 2 2/3 0/1 1/2 1 17 0 0 2 0 0 -6 7
I. Zubac 5 8 1 1/3 0/0 3/4 2 20 3 1 1 2 6 -8 18
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
L. Williams 14 0 7 3/9 1/3 7/11 0 22 0 0 0 0 0 -26 28
M. Harrell 13 6 4 6/10 0/0 1/2 2 22 2 1 2 3 3 -20 28
W. Chandler 6 1 0 2/4 2/3 0/0 2 14 0 0 1 0 1 -12 6
J. Green 5 5 2 2/8 1/6 0/0 2 19 1 0 1 0 5 -14 14
J. Motley 4 3 0 2/2 0/0 0/2 1 3 0 0 0 1 2 -3 7
T. Wallace 2 2 1 1/4 0/1 0/0 4 11 1 0 2 0 2 -20 5
J. Robinson 2 0 0 1/3 0/2 0/0 1 12 1 0 0 0 0 -3 3
S. Thornwell 0 1 1 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 3 0 0 1 0 1 -3 2
L. Mbah a Moute - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
P. Beverley - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Delgado - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Bibbs - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 103 38 27 38/81 8/26 19/31 22 234 10 2 15 9 29 -160 192