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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Austin Rivers' career-high 41 points helps Rockets thump the Kings, 129-112

Posted: August 9, 2020 -- 11:27 p.m. CT

ORLANDO, FL (ESPN Disney World of Sports Complex) -- James Harden stuffed the stat sheet (again) in the Houston Rockets' 129-112 win over the Sacramento Kings Sunday night. Harden scored 32 points and added 8 rebounds plus 7 assists to help the Rockets improve to 4-1 inside the NBA's bubble.

Harden also got help from Austin Rivers. Rivers scored a career-high 41 points in 33 minutes on 14 for 20 field goal shooting including 6 for 11 from three-point range.

Ben McLemore scored 20 points on 7 for 16 shooting from the floor (6 for 14 from three). McLemore, for the second straight game, started in place of Russell Westbrook. Westbrook rested a bruise quadriceps.

McLemore has scored 20 points in back-to-back starts for the Rockets.

Houston (44-25) trailed the Kings 36-23 at the end of the first quarter. The Rockets got off to an icy 2 for 12 start (1 for 11 three-pointers) in the first 5:16 of the game.

The Rockets outscored the Kings 38-20 in the second quarter to lead 61-56 at halftime. Then, the Rockets limited the Kings to 15 points in the third quarter and outscored the Kings 32-15 to lead 93-61 after three periods.

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The Kings (29-41) pulled within 14 (102-88) in the fourth quarter; but, Rivers scored a driving layup with 7:32 remaining in the game. Harden followed with a layup before Rivers nailed another three-pointer for a 109-90 Rockets' lead with 6:29 on the clock.

"Once I came back in there with six minutes," Rivers said after the game. "I was going to go get it (his new career-high in points)...The whole game was natural. Just flowing. Everybody playing the right way. That's the best way to have a night like tonight is through the team."

Down the stretch, Rivers was closing in on his career-high 38 points. Rivers had 30 points with more than 4 minutes left in the game. He sank 2 foul shots; scored a driving layup; and nailed a step back three-point shot in 47 seconds to give him 37 points with 3:25 on the clock.

Over the next minute of action, Rivers committed a turnover and missed two 3-point attempts. Sixty-one seconds later, Rivers missed another three-point shot. However, with 1:05 on the game clock, Rivers scored a lay-up to give him 39 points and a new career-high.

Rivers made 2 more free throws to finish the game with 41 points.

Harden said after the game, "If we can get everybody clicking and on the same page and playing well, and, obviously, with a full roster with Eric and Russell back, we're willing to play anybody."

Houston's next game is Tuesday, August 11, at 1 p.m. Central Time, against the San Antonio Spurs.

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