NCAA

Harden leads Rockets over Grizzlies 121-96

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Harden leads Rockets over Grizzlies 121-96

HOUSTON (AP) James Harden scored 31 points with eight assists, and the Houston Rockets earned their third straight win, 121-96 over the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night.

The Grizzlies entered the game allowing an NBA-low 89.2 points a game. But they had no answer for Harden. He did all his scoring in the first three quarters and reached at least 20 points for an eighth straight game.

Houston used a big run midway through the second quarter to take the lead, and didn't trail after that to break a four-game winning streak by the Grizzlies.

Mike Conley had 16 points for the Grizzlies on a night when leading scorer Rudy Gay finished with a season-low six points.

Memphis hadn't allowed 100 points since the Clippers scored 101 in the season-opener - an NBA-best streak of 23 games.

The Rockets needed just over three quarters to reach the mark with a free throw by Jeremy Lin with 9 1-2 minutes left that made it 100-80.

It was the Rockets' 13th straight home victory over the Grizzlies. Memphis hasn't won in Houston since April 2006.

Lin added 15 points and 11 assists, and Marcus Morris scored 16 points.

Rockets took advantage of their speed in this one, outscoring Memphis 33-3 on fast breaks in the Grizzlies' most lopsided loss of the season.

The Rockets led by 15 points late in the third quarter when Harden found Greg Smith in the lane for a dunk. Quincy Pondexter made a layup on the other end before Carlos Delfino knocked down a 3-pointer from 2 feet behind the line to extend the lead to 94-76.

Zach Randolph made a layup for Memphis to end the quarter with Houston up 94-78.

The Rockets had a six-point lead before Harden scored seven straight points to push Houston's lead to 77-64 with seven minutes left in the third quarter. He started the run with a three-point play before jumping in front of a pass and taking it the distance for a layup.

The Grizzlies led by three points with about nine minutes left in the second quarter before Houston used a 13-3 run powered by six points from Omer Asik to take a 48-41 lead.

Memphis cut the lead to four later in the quarter. This time the Rockets used a 12-6 spurt to extend their lead to 64-54 at halftime.

NOTES: The Rockets recalled G Scott Machado from the D-League Rio Grande Valley Vipers before Saturday's game. ... Asik had 14 points and 12 rebounds for his 12th double-double of the season. ... Houston is 7-1 when Harden scores at least 30 points. ... Randolph finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Cavaliers clamp down on Pitt

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Cavaliers clamp down on Pitt

PITTSBURGH -- No. 1 Virginia allowed just seven points in the first half and secured the regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference title outright with a 66-37 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Freshman guard De'Andre Hunter came off the bench to lead the Cavaliers (26-2, 14-1 ACC) with 14 points in a game that didn't take big offensive efforts from Virginia's regulars. Of the five starters, only guard Ty Jerome exceeded his season average with 13 points.

The game was never competitive, as Virginia started on an 8-0 run and Pitt didn't make a field goal until Jared Wilson-Frame hit a 3-pointer at the midway point of the first half.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett rested most of his regulars in the second half. Reserve Nigel Johnson added 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting.

Parker Stewart led Pitt (8-22, 0-17) with 12 points, all on 3-pointers. Pitt had next to no presence inside. The Panthers were outscored 28-8 in the paint and out-rebounded 36-24. Seven of Pitt's 11 made field goals were from beyond the arc.

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

The Caps could not shake Buffalo for two periods, but a dominant finish on Saturday helped them pull away for a 5-1 win. Here's how they finally put away the Sabres.

A quick start

Strong starts go a long way towards helping a team in the middle of a slump. It's a confidence boost for a group in desperate need of one and the Caps got that boost on Saturday from Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov used his wheels to zip in behind the defense and score just 50 seconds into the game. Washington led 1-0 at the end of the first, just the second time in 19 games they have held a lead after the opening 20 minutes.

RELATED: SEE THE 3 STARS FROM CAPS-SABRES HERE

Andre Burakovsky snapping a second period slump

It looked in the second period like the Caps were caught trying to protect the lead again, but Andre Burakovsky woke the team back up with his incredible highlight end-to-end goal. It really looked like Buffalo was going to tie the game at one, but instead, Burakovsky extended the lead to two. Going end to end the way he did shows a player who is starting to play with some confidence, something Burakovsky has lacked for much of the season.

Ovechkin's two-goal third period

Buffalo would not go away. Sam Reinhart got the Sabres on the board just 14 seconds into the third period and suddenly the Caps found themselves in a one-goal game again. But Ovechkin ended any hopes for the comeback as he struck in the top corner of the net on the power play from the office. He would later add a deflection goal to extend the lead to 5-1, giving a scuffling Washington team the dominant win they so sorely needed.