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Basketball: Depleted Rockets beat Clippers

The Houston Rockets shrugged off the absence of leading scorer James Harden to post a 98-81 NBA victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.

HOUSTON: The Houston Rockets shrugged off the absence of leading scorer James Harden to post a 98-81 NBA victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.

Omer Asik had a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds with point guard Jeremy Lin, forward Chandler Parsons and reserve guard Francisco Garcia chipping in 15 points apiece as Houston snapped a five-game skid against the Clippers.

The all-around offensive effort saw the Rockets overcome the absence of Harden, who sat out the contest with soreness in his right foot, which has bothered him intermittently for several weeks.

Carlos Delfino added 11 points for the Rockets, who insured the Clippers would wait at least one more game for a club-record 50th win of the season.

Chris Paul led the Clippers with 19 points. Jamal Crawford added 15 and Blake Griffin scored 12 in the setback.

The Rockets, seventh in the Western Conference and determined to strengthen their hold on a playoff spot, were in control throughout against the Pacific Division-leading Clippers, who are assured of a playoff spot.

The Rockets led 55-50 at halftime, and pulled away from the Clippers as they out-scored Los Angeles 30-13 in the third quarter.

Parsons's three-pointer four minutes into the third gave Houston a double-digit lead. He had another three-pointer in the 15-4 Rockets' run to end the third, which gave Houston an 85-63 lead.

Houston held Los Angeles to 32.5 percent shooting in the second half. The Rockets dominated in the paint, out-scoring the Clippers 48-26, and parlayed 19 turnovers by the Clippers into 19 points.