76ers

Best of NBA: James Harden triple-double powers Rockets to win

ap-rockets-james-harden.jpg
AP Images

Best of NBA: James Harden triple-double powers Rockets to win

HOUSTON -- James Harden had a triple-double of 35 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists to help the Houston Rockets beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 117-113 on Thursday night.

Harden also had five steals and a block as Houston extended its winning streak to four games.

LeBron James had 33 points for the Cavaliers, and Jeff Green added 27.

Houston led by seven after a layup by James with about 10 minutes left. The Rockets scored the next six points, capped by a 3-pointer by P.J. Tucker to make it 111-98. The Cavaliers used a 13-1 run, with five points from James, to cut the lead to 112-111 with 90 seconds left.

Harden missed a layup after that, but grabbed a rebound and threw an alley-oop to Clint Capela, who finished for Houston's first basket since Tucker's 3. He was fouled on the play and made the free throw to make it 115-11 with just over a minute remaining.

James made a layup on the other end, but Capela made another basket after a grabbing the rebound on a miss by Harden to put Houston back up by 4 with 10.7 seconds left.

Capela, who finished with 19 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks, blocked a shot by James in the final seconds to secure the win (see full recap).

Nuggets top struggling Thunder
DENVER -- Emmanuel Mudiay scored 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead 3-pointer midway through the period, and the Denver Nuggets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 102-94 on Thursday night.

Paul Milsap added 17 points and Nikola Jokic had 15 points to go with 11 rebounds for Denver. The Nuggets snapped a five-game losing streak at home to the Thunder, including a 106-105 setback April 9 on a last-second 3-pointer by Russell Westbrook that eliminated Denver from playoff contention.

Carmelo Anthony, who spent his first 7 1-2 years in the league in Denver before being traded to the New York Knicks in 2011, had 28 points to lead the Thunder, who acquired Anthony in a pre-season trade. Paul George and Westbrook each added 13 points for the Thunder, who lost their fourth in a row.

Neither the Thunder nor the Nuggets were able to gain separation on the other in a tightly contested third quarter and the teams went into the final period tied at 75.

The game was tied at 82 when Mudiay connected on a 3-pointer with 7:35 remaining, triggering a 7-0 burst by Denver.

Oklahoma City fought back to within 93-90 but Milsap answered by converting a three-point play with 2:09 left to rebuild Denver's lead to six.

The Thunder got no closer than four points the rest of the way (see full recap).

Wall, Beal help Wizards drop Lakers
WASHINGTON -- John Wall's Wizards managed to make a double-digit edge hold up against the Lakers this time, with the All-Star point guard scoring 23 points and Bradley Beal 22 as Washington beat Los Angeles and cold-shooting Lonzo Ball 111-95 on Thursday night.

Ball had 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. But the No. 2 overall draft pick out of UCLA came in making just 29.5 percent of his field-goal attempts for the Lakers and he was worse against the Wizards, going 3 for 12 -- 25 percent.

Washington's Otto Porter Jr. finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Markieff Morris scored 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting, including a pair of 3s to open the third quarter.

Coming off a home loss in which they never held a lead against the NBA-worst Dallas Mavericks, the Wizards went up by as many as 21 against the Lakers, at 91-70 on Porter's turnaround fadeaway jumper with about 75 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

The Lakers pulled to 93-84 on Julius Randle's two-handed slam with about 8 minutes left in the game. But a 3 by Beal soon built the hosts' advantage back up to 15 and the outcome was never in doubt the rest of the way (see full recap).

Rockets extend streak as Butler exits with injury

uspresswire-rockets-james-harden.jpg
USA Today Images

Rockets extend streak as Butler exits with injury

HOUSTON -- James Harden scored 31 points and the Houston Rockets won their 11th straight game with a 120-102 victory Friday night over the Minnesota Timberwolves, who lost All-Star Jimmy Butler to an apparent right knee injury.

Butler left the game late in the third quarter. After grabbing a rebound late in the third quarter, he pivoted and planted hard on his right foot before collapsing and grabbing his right knee. He was on the floor for at least three minutes before he was carried off the court by two teammates. He appeared to avoid putting weight on his right leg when heading to the locker room.

A Timberwolves official said during the fourth quarter that Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau would provide an update on Butler's injury following the game.

Clint Capela had 25 points and 11 rebounds for Houston, getting his 10th double-double over the past 13 games. Chris Paul added 14 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

The Rockets trailed for much of the first half before going ahead to maintain the NBA's best record.

Andrew Wiggins led Minnesota with 21 points, and Jeff Teague and Karl-Anthony Towns both had 18 points. Towns added 13 rebounds (see full recap).

Davis sensational in Pelicans’ OT victory over Heat
NEW ORLEANS -- Anthony Davis had 45 points, 17 rebounds, five blocked shots and five steals, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Miami Heat 124-123 in overtime Friday night for their fourth consecutive victory.

Goran Dragic scored 30 points and Dwyane Wade hit two runners to give the Heat the lead twice in the last 36 seconds of overtime, but Davis responded to the first with a layup as he was fouled, and Jrue Holiday answered the second with a runner in the lane with 7 seconds left.

Wade had one last shot for the win with Holiday defending him closely. It bounced off the rim to Josh Richardson, whose rushed put-back missed the basket as time expired in Miami's third straight loss.

Davis, who has scored no fewer than 38 points in a game during New Orleans' winning streak -- and 42 or more three times -- raised both arms in triumph as he looked up at the jubilant crowd, and then exchanged high fives with fans along the court.

Holiday finished with 29 points and nine assists, connecting with Davis on a couple of alley-oop dunks. Ian Clark scored a season-high 21 points and Nikola Mirotic capped his 10-point, nine-rebound performance with a crucial 3 in overtime.

Hassan Whiteside had 19 points and 16 rebounds before fouling out in overtime when he hacked Davis on a put-back attempt. Davis hit both free throws to tie it at 117, and then gave New Orleans a brief lead with his fifth alley-oop dunk of the game on a fast-break lob from Holiday with 1:10 to go. Wade had 16 points, while Richardson and Tyler Johnson each scored 15 points (see full recap).

Balanced Celtics rout Pistons
DETROIT -- Kyrie Irving scored 18 points and rookie Daniel Theis added a career-high 19 to lift the Boston Celtics to a 110-98 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.

Jayson Tatum scored 11 of his 15 points in the first half for the Celtics, who went into the All-Star break on a three-game losing streak but returned with a solid win on the road. Boston took control by outscoring the Pistons 38-21 in the second quarter.

Blake Griffin scored 17 points for Detroit but shot just 5 of 19 from the field.

Theis eclipsed his previous career high of 12 points. He played an important role after Aron Baynes, the starting center for the Celtics, went to the locker room in the first half with left elbow soreness. Baynes ended up playing only 2:39, but Theis shot 8 of 10 from the field and had seven rebounds.

Ish Smith made his first eight shots and finished with 20 points for the Pistons. Detroit led 39-37 in the second quarter before a 21-5 run by Boston. The Celtics were ahead 61-49 at halftime.

The lead was only four late in the third before Boston scored seven straight points -- five by Irving. The Celtics broke the game open at the start of the fourth (see full recap).

NBA stars taking notice of Sixers' rise

NBA stars taking notice of Sixers' rise

The Sixers have been rising steadily in the standings and players around the league are taking notice. 

The young squad improved to 31-25 with a victory over the Bulls Thursday. They have won six straight and have not lost at the Wells Fargo Center in 2018. That totals up to the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, only two games behind the Wizards for the fourth spot and two games ahead of the Heat for the eighth. 

"I like them," Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler said at the All-Star break. "They've got a lot of great young talent. We do as well. But I think the way that they're going and how they play so hard and play so together, that's how you win basketball games. They're going to be really, really good for a long time."

The Sixers turned heads with a statement win over the Rockets in only their seventh game of the season. From there, they have defeated playoff teams, including a rare sweep of the Spurs, while struggling against sub.-500 opponents. 

They have 26 games remaining to make a postseason push. Of their upcoming opponents, only 10 games are against current top-eight teams in their conferences. Brett Brown has emphasized they can't take any team lightly. This is the time for the Sixers to maximize their schedule and show they learned from previous letdowns.

"They look good," Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard said. "Obviously as a young team, it takes time to learn how to win. ... The mature, really high-level teams, they find a way to get it done. I think for them, that's what their record shows. You play against them and it's hard to play against them. 

"They're really talented, they play hard, they play for a great coach. It's just those nights where you might not have it, having that understanding and that experience that'll lead you to more wins. I think once they get to that point, that's when maybe nine or 10 games that they've let slip, maybe they win those games."

The Sixers wrapped up the majority of their Western Conference schedule prior to the All-Star break. They have only the Timberwolves, Nuggets and Mavericks left to play. Those in the conference still are keeping an eye on the Sixers' progress, even if they may not face off again for months. 

"Everyone definitely sees the talent there," Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. "Any time you've got Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid to build around, they've got a very bright future. I think everyone had very high expectations, but it's hard to have high expectations with a team that's got a lot of first-, second-year guys that have never been in the playoffs. 

"But you can tell that they're going to be in the playoffs for, shoot, the next decade or so, probably be upper echelon pretty soon."