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James Harden is the absolute leader for Rockets who reached their 9th consecutive win (118-106)

James Harden is working toward another NBA MVP award and he provided voters with another reason to consider picking him on Monday night by stuffing the stat sheet against the Hornets in a win.

James Harden scored 28 points and Clint Capela dominated the paint as the Houston Rockets stretched their winning streak to nine games with a 118-106 victory over the visiting Charlotte Hornets. Capela paired 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting with 15 rebounds and controlled the interior as the Rockets produced a 55-39 rebounding advantage against the Hornets, who opted to space the floor on offense and use half-court traps defensively in an attempt to offset their numerous injuries.

That plan nearly worked, thanks to a terrific shooting performance from Kemba Walker. Charlotte trailed 91-63 following a pair of free throws from Rockets guard James Harden before Walker engineered a 17-2 rally that closed the third quarter.

The Hornets cut the deficit to 10 points on Miles Bridges’ dunk with 3:22 remaining before Harden answered with a three-point play. Walker finished with a game-high 40 points on 14-of-20 shooting. He shot a combined 11-of-11 in the second and third periods, pouring in 31 points during that stretch. Walker added 10 rebounds and seven assists – also making all six of his attempts from three-point range — but the deficit was too large for Charlotte to erase.

The Hornets were without veterans Marvin Williams, Nicolas Batum, Tony Parker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Frank Kaminsky scored 15 points off the bench, while Dwayne Bacon added 13 points and Bridges 12 as starters. Harden led the Rockets with 28 points and 10 assists. Eric Gordon chipped in 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting. Chris Paul also recorded a double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds) for Houston, who received 16 points and nine boards from Kenneth Faried, who returned following a five-game injury absence.

Despite a sluggish start from Harden, who missed his first six shot attempts, the Rockets darted to a 38-19 lead entering the second quarter. Walker scored nine consecutive points for the Hornets during one stretch in the second quarter, but Charlotte still trailed 57-35 before Faried and Austin Rivers combined for nine points during a 14-5 run that upped the lead to 29 points

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