Basketball

Harden hits 35 in Houston's win over Raptors

Rockets stretch winning streak to six games, after victory over Raptors

NBA scoring leader James Harden unleashed 35 points on a poor shooting night and Gerald Green added 18 off the bench yesterday morning (Singapore time), as the Houston Rockets beat Toronto Raptors 107-95 in a showdown of contenders.

Harden went 12-of-30 from the floor, sinking only three-of-nine from three-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 Trail Blazers and Oklahoma City Thunder 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 leaders Milwaukee Bucks.

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.

Austin Rivers, Eric Gordon and Green each scored five points in a 17-2 run over four minutes that gave the Rockets a 55-37 half-time advantage.

But Toronto opened the third quarter with a 15-2 run, pulling within 57-52 as the Rockets missed their first six second-half shots from the floor.

Siakam sank two three-pointers to lead the spurt for the Raptors and later added a jumper for a 60-59 Toronto lead. Houston answered with an 14-2 run to open the fourth quarter, Green making three three-pointers in the run as the Rockets grabbed an 83-73 edge.

Back-to-back three-pointers by Harden and PJ Tucker put Houston ahead 94-80 and the Rockets frustrated Toronto to the finish.

Elsewhere, 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 CJ 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.

JJ Redick scored 26 points to lead six double-digit scorers for Philadelphia in a 114-106 victory over visiting Orlando.

Frenchman Evan Fournier led the Magic with 25 points, while Aaron Gordon added 24 for Orlando. - AFP


"I didn't shoot the ball well at all tonight, but I'm going to keep going. Total team effort... This winning streak we've been on, we've been playing well. We just have to keep it going."
- Houston Rockets star James Harden

Basketball