Harden leads Rockets over Raptors, Celtics rip Warriors
By Agence France-Presse
NBA scoring leader James Harden unleashed 35 points on a poor shooting night and Gerald Green added 18 off the bench Tuesday as the Houston Rockets beat Toronto 107-95 in a showdown of contenders.
Harden went 12-of-30 from the floor, sinking only 3-of-9 from 3-point range, but struck for 19 points in the fourth quarter as the Rockets stretched their win streak to six games.
“I didn’t shoot the ball well at all tonight but I’m going to keep going,” Harden said. “Total team effort.
“We’ve just got to stay healthy. This winning streak we’ve been on, we’ve been playing well. We just have to keep it going.”
Chris Paul had 10 assists and Clint Capela grabbed 15 rebounds for the Rockets, who moved level for third in the Western Conference with Portland and Oklahoma City at 39-25.
It was the second loss in a row for the Raptors, who fell to 46-19, 2.5 games behind Eastern Conference leader Milwaukee.
Kawhi Leonard led Toronto with 26 points while Cameroon’s Pascal Siakam added 17 points and 10 rebounds and Spain’s Serge Ibaka had 10 points and 15 rebounds.
In another East-West matchup, the Boston Celtics routed defending NBA champion Golden State 128-95 — the worst home defeat for the Western Conference leaders since Steve Kerr became coach of the Warriors in 2014.
Gordon Hayward came off the bench to score 30 points to lead the Celtics while Kyrie Irving added 19 points and a game-high 11 assists.
Golden State seeks a fourth NBA title in five seasons while the visiting Celtics found their spark after a league-worst 1-5 record since the NBA All-Star Game.
“We just wanted to put our focus on being a great road team,” Celtics star Kyrie Irving said. “We put a lot of emphasis on being together. We’ve been doing a lot of talking and it’s time we started doing something.
“We were clicking tonight. We want some carryover but this is a great start.”
The Celtics led 73-48 at half-time, Hayward matching Warriors star Stephen Curry with 19 first-half points.
Golden State went without a basket the last 3:53 of the second quarter and missed 14 consecutive 3-point shots at one stage while the Celtics closed the third quarter with a 12-0 run for a 105-77 lead and finished off the rout over the last quarter.
Asked what the Celtics needed to emphasize to have to maximum their championship chances, Irving said, “Resilience. Patience. Perseverence. Things we can control, attitude and effort and being there to share each other’s success.”
– Big night for Towns –
Minnesota’s Karl-Antony Towns scored 41 points and pulled down 14 rebounds as the Timberwolves ripped visiting Oklahoma City 131-120.
Russell Westbrook had 38 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in a losing cause for the Thunder.
Mike Conley netted 40 points to spark the Memphis Grizzlies to a 120-111 victory over visiting Portland. Delon Wright added 25 off the bench for Memphis, while C.J. McCollum led the Trail Blazers with 27 points.
Croatian Bojan Bogdanovic scored 27 points and Darren Collison added 22 to power the Indiana Pacers over visiting Chicago 105-96. Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 27 points.
J.J. Redick scored 26 points to lead six double-digit scorers for Philadelphia in a 114-106 victory over visiting Orlando.
Tobias Harris added 21 points and 12 rebounds for the 76ers while Australia’s Ben Simmons contributed 16 points and game-highs of 13 rebounds and eight assists.
Frenchman Evan Fournier led the Magic with 25 points while Aaron Gordon added 24 for Orlando.