Basketball

Houston Rockets pipped by Spurs despite James Harden’s half-century

James Harden erupted for 50 points and Russell Westbrook bagged a triple-double, but it was not enough to stop the Houston Rockets falling to a double-overtime defeat by the San Antonio Spurs yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Three days after a 60-point display against Atlanta Hawks, Harden followed that masterclass with a half-century at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. Yet it was the Spurs who edged out a thrilling duel 135-133 after two periods of overtime.

Lonnie Walker IV was the star for the Spurs, rising from the bench to lead the scoring with 28 points and four rebounds.

Walker's intervention had helped San Antonio claw their way back into the game in the closing minutes of regulation.

The Rockets led by 10 points with just under four minutes on the clock but were reeled in by Walker, who hit back-to-back three-pointers to tie the score at 115-115 and force overtime.

Houston, however, were on the wrong end of a refereeing blunder earlier in the fourth quarter that turned out to be pivotal.

Harden broke away and took his time before dunking emphatically into an empty net. The points were ruled out, however, after officials mistakenly judged that the ball had bounced out of the basket.

Those lost points proved costly as the Spurs forced overtime and battled their way to a pulsating victory.

Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni bemoaned his team's inability to close out the win after leading by 22 points at one stage.

"We quit playing defence, we quit getting back, we turned it over silly," said D'Antoni, who added he was baffled by Harden's disallowed dunk.

"I have no idea (why it was disallowed). I didn't get an explanation."

LAKERS EXTEND LEAD

Elsewhere, the Los Angeles Lakers extended their lead at the top of the Western Conference with a 105-96 win over the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center in Colorado.

The Lakers were once again led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who each finished with 25 points from 36 minutes on court.

The Lakers now lead the Western Conference by 3.5 games from third-placed Denver with 18 wins against three defeats. - AFP

OTHER RESULTS:

Cleveland 94 Detroit 127, Washington 120 Orlando 127, Toronto 110 Miami 121 (OT), New Orleans 97 Dallas 118, LA Clippers 117 Portland 97

Basketball