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Houston led 85-76 after three quarters, despite going 7 for 18 from the field and hitting only two 3s in the third.
The Rockets gave away four turnovers in the first 4 minutes of the final quarter. Vasquez returned and guarded Harden, who swished a jumper from the top of the key for a 95-88 lead with just over 4 minutes to go.
The 6-foot-9 Al-Farouq Aminu switched to guard Harden after that, and Harden passed to Parsons for a 3-pointer with 3:27 remaining, restoring Houston's double-digit lead.
Vasquez then sank a pair of 3s to fuel a quick 8-0 Hornets run that cut the gap to 98-96 with less than 2 minutes to play. Parsons just beat the shot clock with a fadeaway jumper to put Houston up by four.
Harden bit on Vasquez's head fake, landed awkwardly and was whistled for a non-shooting foul. Aminu missed a hurried 3-pointer, but Patrick Patterson couldn't corral the rebound and the ball went out of bounds. Vasquez missed a corner 3 at the buzzer, his only miss in four attempts from long range.
NOTES: Houston coach Kevin McHale missed his third straight game since taking an indefinite leave to address a family matter in Minnesota. Assistant coach Kelvin Sampson said the team still has no timetable for McHale's return. ... Former Rockets center Ralph Sampson was honored at midcourt during a timeout in the second quarter. Sampson, the top overall pick in the 1983 draft who guided Houston to the 1986 NBA Finals, was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in September. ... The Rockets' 39 second-quarter points and 64 first-half points were season highs.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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