Continued from page 1

After that, Hibbert made the second of two free throws after he was fouled by Howard. Hibbert crashed to the ground after minimal contact from Howard, and the play initially was ruled a flagrant foul before it was overturned on review.

Houston scored seven straight points after that, thanks to a pair of turnovers by the Pacers.

Parsons made two free throws before Harden grabbed a steal from West and sank a 3-pointer. A turnover by Lance Stephenson seconds later led to a dunk by Harden that made it 73-50.

That’s when things got heated.

Turner was fouled by Parsons after he stole the ball from Patrick Beverley. Turner pushed Harden with one hand at the end of the play. Harden immediately got in his face, so close it appeared they might be touching, and the pair exchanged words. They were quickly pulled apart while players from both teams yelled at each other.

Harden said he got in Turner’s face because he went too far.

“I wasn’t going to let it slide,” he said. “I wasn’t having it.”

The fracas didn’t do anything to slow down Harden, and he scored five points in the 10-3 run by Houston that followed, extending the lead to 83-53.

Harden said it was important that the Rockets maintained their composure after the scuffle.

“We knew that the game was going to be officiated tight after that and we did a good job of getting stops and getting out and getting layups and 3s,” he said.

The Rockets led 88-59 entering the fourth.

Houston was up by 16 midway through the second quarter. The Pacers got going after that, outscoring the Rockets 19-10 the rest of the first half to cut the deficit to 50-43 at halftime. West had eight points during that stretch and George had a nifty reverse layup and a 3-pointer to help Indiana.

NOTES: Beverley, who broke his nose in the first half of Houston’s game against Orlando on Wednesday, wore a mask to protect the injury. … Former Rockets Hakeem Olajuwon and Tracy McGrady attended the game, flanking team owner Leslie Alexander in their courtside seats.