James Harden

James Harden makes NBA history with offensive explosion

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James Harden makes NBA history with offensive explosion

HOUSTON -- James Harden became the first player in NBA history to score 60 points as part of a triple-double as the short-handed Houston Rockets beat the Orlando Magic 114-107 on Tuesday night.

Harden scored 18 points in the fourth quarter to eclipse the 57 points Calvin Murphy scored in 1978 to break Houston's single-game scoring record. After Harden broke the record, cameras in the arena showed a shot of Murphy, who works on the television broadcast team, smiling and clapping for the Beard, who also had 10 rebounds and 11 assists.

The game was tied at 107 after a basket by Marreese Speights with just under four minutes to play. Neither team scored for more than two minutes after that before Harden took over, scoring the next six points to make it 113-107 with 45 seconds left.

He set the scoring mark when he stepped back and made a 3-pointer before crashing to the court after being fouled by Mario Hezonja. He then made the free throw to give him 60 points and bringing the crowd to its feet.

Harden, who also had four steals and a block, grabbed his 10th rebounds a few seconds later to give him his third triple double this season. He made 17 of 18 free throws and was 19 of 30 from the floor with five 3 pointers.

Hezonja and Speights scored 17 points each for the Magic, who dropped their third straight (see full recap).

Pistons top Cavs as Love breaks left hand
DETROIT -- Andre Drummond had 21 points and 22 rebounds, and the short-handed Detroit Pistons beat Cleveland 125-114 on Tuesday night after the Cavaliers lost Kevin Love to a potentially season-altering hand injury.

Love exited in the first quarter with a broken left hand, and the Pistons took advantage of his absence, snapping an eight-game losing streak despite a roster that was depleted by their blockbuster trade for Blake Griffin.

Detroit gave up three players to get Griffin, and neither he nor the other two players the Pistons received in return were available against Cleveland. Drummond -- whose own status was in question because of an illness -- had a huge game, and Stanley Johnson added a career-high 26 points.

Reggie Bullock added 22 points for the Pistons, and Anthony Tolliver scored 20.

LeBron James scored 21 points for the Cavs, but Cleveland was listless early and outplayed late -- and the result felt secondary to Love's health. The team said he had a non-displaced fracture in his fifth metacarpal and his status would be updated after additional examination Wednesday in Cleveland.

Love played only 4:41 and went scoreless (see full recap).

Rubio, Jazz rout sluggish Warriors
SALT LAKE CITY -- Ricky Rubio scored 23 points and handed out 11 assists as the Utah Jazz stunned the Golden State Warriors 129-99 on Tuesday night.

The loss ended a three-game winning streak for the Warriors, who had won seven of eight before facing the Jazz. It was their largest loss of the season.

Utah now has a three-game win streak for just the third time this season.

Joe Ingles led a 3-point barrage by the Jazz that gave the team a 13-point lead at halftime that was extended to 18 at the end of the third quarter. The Aussie knocked down a career-high six triples, finished with 20 points and the Jazz shot 50.0 percent from behind the arc. Rubio continued his recent run of strong play and tied his season-high assists. Derrick Favors added 18 points and 10 rebounds while rookie Donovan Mitchell scored 20

The Jazz hit a season-high 58.2 percent of their shots from the field.

Rudy Gobert anchored a defense that cut off a lot of Golden State drives to the basket and the Warriors never put together one of those offensive runs that typically buries their opponents.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr seemed to waive the white flag with more than six minutes left in the game, pulling his starters.

Klay Thompson led Golden State with 27 points and six rebounds while Kevin Durant finished with 17. Durant and Stephen Curry were a combined 1 for 12 from 3-point range (see full recap).

Clippers top Rockets despite Harden's 2nd straight 51-point game

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Clippers top Rockets despite Harden's 2nd straight 51-point game

HOUSTON — After Austin Rivers scored just six points in the first half on Friday night against the Houston Rockets, his Los Angeles Clippers teammates had a message for him.

"Austin, you've got to be more aggressive," Rivers recalled them saying.

He certainly took their advice, scoring 30 of his career-high 36 points after halftime to allow the Clippers to withstand James Harden's second straight 51-point performance in a 128-118 victory.

"If we were going to win I had to start being in attack mode," Rivers said. "And right from the get-go my whole attention was to just be aggressive and take the fight to them."

The Rockets, who had a 14-game winning streak snapped by the Lakers on Wednesday, lost consecutive games for just the second time this season and the first since Oct. 28 and 30 (see full recap).

Westbrook's game-winning 3-pointer lifts Thunder past Hawks
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma City Thunder like their chances with the ball in Russell Westbrook's hands at the end of a game.

Westbrook hit a 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds left to cap a 30-point, 15-assist outing, and the Thunder held off the resilient Hawks 120-117 on Friday night. Carmelo Anthony added 24 points on 7-of-12 3-point shooting and Paul George scored 17 for the Thunder, who have won five of their last six after a 12-14 start.

"I think we know now how to close and where we're going to to close," George said. "Russ is our leader. ... We knew that we could kind of mess them up with the play that we had, cause some confusion. They backed off and Russ had an easy, open opportunity. Russ is as good as anybody when it's closing time."

Atlanta, in last place in the Southeast Division, made Oklahoma City work for this one, rallying after falling behind by 16 points in the first half, and again by seven in the final minutes. Marco Belinelli scored 30 points to lead Atlanta. Ersan Ilyasova added 22 points for the Hawks, who went 15 of 32 from 3-point range (see full recap).

Drummond's double-double leads Pistons over Knicks
DETROIT — For a few moments Friday, Stan Van Gundy thought his Detroit Pistons were going to fall back into the same bad habits that plagued them early in December.

After leading for most of the game, the Pistons found themselves trailing the New York Knicks by four with 1:48 to play. A loss would have dropped them to 3-9 in December and a game behind the Knicks in the Eastern Conference standings.

Instead, Detroit finished with a 9-2 run to post a 104-101 victory and a fourth win in five games.

"Down four in the last two minutes is a bad situation, but I was very happy with the way we closed out the game," Van Gundy said. "We made some big defensive plays and Reggie (Jackson) attacked on the offensive end." (see full recap).

Bucks close with 9-0 run to beat Hawks 
MILWAUKEE — With Dwight Howard going out early, Kemba Walker did his best to give the Charlotte Hornets a chance to grab a road victory against the Milwaukee Bucks.

But when Walker went down with an apparent injury late in the fourth quarter, the Bucks capitalized, closing on a 9-0 run for a 109-104 victory Friday night.

"This was a tough game," Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. "There were a lot of emotions in the last game we played. Charlotte is playing extremely well and hard, especially with their coach out. ... They were right there and we found a way down the stretch to make plays on both ends."

After Walker gave Charlotte a 104-100 lead with 2:24 remaining, Milwaukee held the Hornets scoreless the rest of the way. The Bucks tied it on dunks by Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton and took the lead on Eric Bledsoe's layup (see full recap).

Kuzma's career night helps Lakers cool off Rockets

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Kuzma's career night helps Lakers cool off Rockets

HOUSTON -- Rookie Kyle Kuzma set career highs with 38 points and seven 3-pointers, and the Los Angeles Lakers overcame 51 points from James Harden to end the Houston Rockets' 14-game winning streak with a 122-116 victory Wednesday night.

It was Houston's first loss since Nov. 14 and snapped a three-game skid for the Lakers.

The game was tied before Los Angeles scored 10 straight points -- while Houston missed seven shots in a row -- to go up 110-100 with about four minutes left.

Houston ended an almost four-minute scoring drought when Harden made a free throw, and he added three more after being fouled on a 3-point attempt a few seconds later to cut it to 110-104. But former Rocket Corey Brewer made a 3-pointer before Lonzo Ball hit two free throws to make it 115-104.

Harden powered Houston on a night when Chris Paul had just eight points before leaving early in the fourth quarter with a sore left leg.

The Rockets made seven free throws down the stretch but hit just four field goals in the last eight minutes -- all in the final 1:05.

Kuzma was unstoppable in the first half, making all nine of his shots, including six 3-pointers. He cooled a bit after the break and finished 12 of 17 overall and 7 of 10 from deep (see full recap).

Olynyk goes off on former team as Heat top Celtics
BOSTON -- Kelly Olynyk scored a career-high 32 points in his rousing return to Boston, and the undermanned Miami Heat hung on Wednesday for a 90-89 victory over the Celtics.

On a night when the Celtics honored their former forward in his first game back, the popular Olynyk received a standing ovation from Boston fans and led the Heat (16-15) to another win against the top team in the Eastern Conference. Josh Richardson had 19 points and six assists for Miami, which took two of three in the season series. The Heat ended Boston's 16-game winning streak earlier this season with a victory at home.

Olynyk signed with Miami as a free agent during the offseason. His previous high was 30 points on Dec. 15, 2014.

When this one was over, he took photos with fans.

Kyrie Irving paced the Celtics (26-8) with 33 points, but missed a jumper from the right wing that bounced off the rim at the buzzer. Jaylen Brown scored 16 and Marcus Smart had 15 (see full recap).

Bulls blast shorthanded Magic for 7th straight win
CHICAGO -- Denzel Valentine had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Nikola Mirotic had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and the Chicago Bulls beat the Orlando Magic 112-94 on Wednesday night for their seventh straight win.

The Bulls had lost 10 straight with Mirotic out of the lineup prior to his return Dec. 8, and they haven't lost since to improve to 10-20.

Nikola Vucevic scored 18 points for Orlando, which lost its sixth in a row.

Facing the league's fourth-worst scoring defense, the Bulls took a 43-27 lead with 9:05 left in the second quarter on Mirotic's layup, one of many easy baskets. Chicago's strong ball movement resulted in easy looks inside and out, and the team had assists on 10 of its first 15 shots.

Robin Lopez connected on his first four attempts for a club averaging 111.1 points per contest since Mirotic returned to the lineup -- up from 95.7 points in 23 games without the forward.

Injury-riddled Orlando, which played without leading scorers Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon, struggled to keep pace. The Magic made only 3 of 15 first-half 3-point tries en route to their 17th loss in 20 games (see full recap).