Rockets set record, put celebration on hold
By Agence France-Presse
James Harden scored 27 points as the red-hot Houston Rockets won their franchise record 59th game with a 114-91 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.
Harden, who only played three quarters, shot 11-of-24 from the field and nailed a couple of long-range three pointers for the Rockets who won their eighth consecutive game.
The NBA-leading Rockets improved to 59-14 to overtake the 1993-94 championship team for the most wins in franchise history.
Coach Mike D’Antoni said he was happy for his players but said they didn’t feel like celebrating this milestone.
“I just told them. They didn’t care,” he said. “I’m kind of happy. I thought it was nice. They absolutely did not care.
“They will care 10 years from now. For teams to win 59 and 60 games is not easy. They want it all.”
Eric Gordon tallied 19 points and Clint Capela finished with 18 points, 16 rebounds, three steals and tied a career high with six blocks.
Rockets star Chris Paul missed his second-straight game because of a sore left hamstring.
Anthony Davis led New Orleans with 25 points and had eight rebounds and four blocks.
The Rockets went wire-to-wire, scoring seven consecutive points to start the final quarter to add to an already commanding lead.
The Pelicans ran out of gas as they were playing their fifth game in seven days.
Entering Saturday’s contest, they had played on three consecutive nights from Tuesday-Thursday because of a rescheduled game.
Elsewhere, Ben Simmons posted a triple-double as the Philadelphia 76ers moved closer to their first postseason berth in six years with a 120-108 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Point guard Simmons finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds and 13 assists and said he is feeling unstoppable on the court.
“The play I’ve had over the season has been pretty consistent,” Simmons said. “I’m doing some things that haven’t been done in a while.”
Joel Embiid blocked shots, hit long bombs, had a jaw-dropping windmill dunk and scored 19 points in the Sixers victory.
“That’s the second time this year that I did it,” Embiid said of the dunk. “I think I can jump.”
Dario Saric added 18 points as the Sixers improved to 42-30 on the season and moved to within one win or a Detroit loss from their first postseason appearance in six years.
In other games, Aaron Gordon scored 29 points as the Orlando Magic beat the Phoenix Suns 105-99 in Elfrid Payton’s first game against the Magic since the team traded him last month.
Gordon also had 11 rebounds and a career-high eight assists in the win while Payton finished with 14 points in the loss.