HOUSTON — James Harden scored 20 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter, and the Houston Rockets kept their playoff hopes alive with a 130-110 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
The Rockets, who had lost two in a row, entered the day one game behind Utah for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Harden also had 13 assists. Trevor Ariza and Patrick Beverley scored 19 points apiece for the Rockets (39-41), who shot 51 percent from the field.
The Lakers pulled within two early in the fourth quarter before Harden got rolling, scoring 16 points in less than four minutes to help push the lead to 108-96.
Kobe Bryant, who has just two games left before his retirement, had 35 points for Los Angeles, which has dropped five in a row. Jordan Clarkson had 21 points and eight rebounds.
Bryant shared a long hug with Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon on his way off the court as the crowd cheered loudly for the star.
Clarkson hit a pair of 3s to help the Lakers stay close in the fourth, but Houston used a 9-2 run, powered by seven points from Harden, to make it 102-93 with about seven minutes remaining.
Marcelo Huertas made a 3-pointer for the Lakers before Harden got going again, making two more 3s to help extend the lead to 12 midway through the quarter.
Bryant was 10 for 22 from the field and 11 for 11 at the line while playing 27 1/2 minutes, showing glimpses of the offensive force he was when he was younger.
Houston had a 76-64 lead in the third when Bryant heated up. He scored nine straight points, highlighted by an off-balance reverse layup that went in as he crashed to the court. Bryant also wowed the many Los Angeles fans in the crowd when he shook off Clint Capela and stepped back for a 3-pointer.
The Rockets then got back on track, scoring the next six points, to make it 82-73. Bryant capped his big third quarter with a 3-pointer with three seconds left.
Julius Randle scored the last five points of the second quarter to get the Lakers within 55-53 at halftime.
Lakers: Julius Randle scored 11 points. ... Bryant also had two steals, two rebounds and an assist.
Rockets: Dwight Howard had nine points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. ... Houston outscored the Lakers 62-48 in the paint. ... The Rockets made 17 3-pointers.
Lakers: Visit Oklahoma City on Monday.
Rockets: Visit Minnesota on Monday.