Red-hot Harden lifts Rockets, Westbrook bounces back
By Agence France-Presse
James Harden posted a 43-point triple-double on another record-setting night Monday to lead the Houston Rockets to a 113-101 NBA victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Harden, the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, added 13 assists and 10 rebounds for his fourth triple-double of the season and 39th of his career.
And with his eighth straight game with at least 35 points and five assists he set an NBA record — bettering Oscar Robertson’s two such seven-game streaks.
More important for Harden, the Rockets — who made a sputtering start to the season — won for the 10th time in their last 11 games to improve to 21-15.
That’s a better measure, he said, than individual accomplishments, as “bringing a championship to the city is the important thing.”
Harden drained six three-pointers and made 21 of his 27 free throws and the Rockets led by as many as 24 before Memphis sliced the deficit to nine points with 1:26 to play.
A free throw from P.J. Tucker and a layup by Austin Rivers helped rebuild the lead as the Rockets continued to win despite the injury absence of point guard Chris Paul.
“Offensively and defensively guys are stepping up,” Harden said. “We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re heading in the right direction.”
The Oklahoma City Thunder rode point guard Russell Westbrook’s triple-double to a 122-102 home victory over the Dallas Mavericks, a day after falling to the Mavs in Dallas.
Westbrook, who said after his disappointing nine-point performance in Dallas that he was letting his teammates down, bounced back in a big way with 32 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds.
Paul George added 22 points and Jerami Grant chipped in 16 for the Thunder, who never trailed.
– Warriors eclipse Suns –
The two-time defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors closed out 2018 with a 132-109 victory over the Suns in Phoenix.
Stephen Curry scored 34 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Kevin Durant added 25 points and Klay Thompson chipped in 15 for the Warriors, who led by as many as 30.
Curry made five of his nine three-point attempts as the Warriors connected on 14-of-28 from beyond the arc in their 17th straight victory over the Suns.
In San Antonio, the Spurs connected on 76 percent of their shots in a 46-point third quarter to put away the Boston Celtics 120-111.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 12 of his 32 points in the third and San Antonio won for the 11th time in 13 games to continue their rise in the Western Conference.
Derrick White contributed a career-high 22 points for San Antonio, one of six Spurs players to score in double figures.
Jaylen Brown scored a season-high 30 points for the Celtics, who were unable to maintain a first-half lead.
San Antonio got off to a slow start, making just one of their first six shots from the field. Aldridge scored just one point in the first period, when the Spurs posted just 17 points total.
Boston star Kyrie Irving finished with 16 points. He departed briefly in the second half with an apparent eye injury after colliding with the Spurs’ Marco Belinelli. Although Irving returned to the game, he said after the game that both of his eyes had been scratched.
The Charlotte Hornets lost two starters to injury but still defeated the Orlando Magic 125-100.
Kemba Walker scored 24 points to lead six Hornets players in double figures. Cody Zeller scored 14 points before departing with a broken bone in his right hand in the third quarter.
Jeremy Lamb departed in the first quarter with a right hamstring strain.
The New Orleans Pelicans overcame the absence of ailing Anthony Davis to post a 123-114 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Julius Randle scored 33 points and pulled down 11 rebounds and Darius Miller scored 13 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter for New Orleans. Elfrid Payton, who missed 22 games with a broken finger, chipped in nine points on his return.