PHOENIX — James Harden had 23 of his 48 points in the second quarter while the Houston Rockets scored 90 points in the first half en route to a 142-116 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night (Friday, Manila time).
Houston dominated with Chris Paul back in the lineup after missing 14 games with a knee injury. The Rockets made 61 percent of their first-half shots to get the second-most points in a first half in NBA history.
Houston came up 14 points shy of the franchise record for points in a game. The Rockets knocked down 21 of 44 3-point attempts, and Harden made all 18 of his free throws.
Harden, the NBA's leading scorer, had 33 points at halftime. Houston used a 13-1 over the final 3:08 of the first quarter to take control and was never threatened after that, leading 45-23 going into the second.
Paul, who hadn't played since the season opener, got the start and didn't miss a beat, scoring 11 points and handing out 10 assists in limited action.
Coach Mike D'Antoni said before the game that getting the two stars, Harden and Paul, in sync will "take care of itself over the next week or so." D'Antoni planned to play Paul for 20 minutes; Paul saw 21 minutes of action and sat out most of the fourth quarter.
Ryan Anderson added 24 points for the Rockets, who have won seven of eight.
The Suns also shot well in the first half, getting 65 points before the break. They got the lead down to 14 with one of Troy Daniels' six 3-pointers in the second quarter, but the Rockets repeatedly scored with ease at the other end.
Daniels tied a Suns franchise record for 3s in a quarter and led Phoenix with 23 points. Devin Booker added 18 points and 10 assists.
The Suns have lost seven of eight.
As the first half came to a close, a fan yelled at D'Antoni from the stands. "Sit down Mike, you're up 40!" D'Antoni, a former Suns coach, turned and deadpanned, "It's 25. You can't count."
Center Greg Monroe made his Suns debut, starting and playing 26 minutes. Monroe, acquired by Phoenix from Milwaukee with two draft picks for guard Eric Bledsoe on Nov. 7, was dealing with a left calf strain when he arrived.
He finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
Monroe played amid speculation that he could be traded or have his contract bought out.
Rockets: F Luc MBah a Moute (illness) did not play, the second game he has missed this season. ... C Nene returned from a right foot sprain that had him out the past two games and scored 10 points in 14 minutes. ... F P.J. Tucker faced his former team for the first time in Phoenix since he was traded to Toronto in February of last season. Tucker spent five seasons with the Suns, and a video tribute to him aired in the arena during a first-quarter timeout.
Suns: C Tyson Chandler (illness) and F Jared Dudley (right knee contusion) did not play. ... The Suns wrapped up a six-game homestand, which will be their longest of the season, with a 1-5 record. ... Arizona Cardinals star WR Larry Fitzgerald attended the game, sitting courtside.
Rockets: At Memphis on Saturday night.
Suns: At Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.