Rockets topple Warriors, Thunder embarrass Cavs

James Harden cemented his return from injury with 22 points for the Rockets in a 116-108 win over the Golden State Warriors
AFP

Los Angeles (AFP) – The Houston Rockets ended the Golden State Warriors’ 14-game road winning streak Saturday, thwarting the NBA champions’ comeback bid in an impressive 116-108 victory.

Chris Paul scored 33 points and James Harden cemented his return from injury with 22 for the Rockets, who also saw Clint Capela, Luc Mbah a Moute and PJ Tucker score in double figures.

The Rockets out-rebounded Golden state 46-33 and led by as many as 17 points in the second quarter en route to the win in a marquee match up of the two highest-scoring teams in the league.

“We had to get this win,” said Harden, who was supposed to be limited to less than 30 minutes of action in his second game back from a hamstring injury but played more than 34.

His step-back three-pointer with 1:10 left to play in the fourth helped sound the death knell, stretching the Rockets’ lead back to six points.

The Rockets, second in the Western Conference, improved to 17-0 this season when Harden, Paul and Capela are all active.

Although they battled back to lead by as many as four in a fourth quarter that saw six lead changes, the Warriors were ultimately undone by 19 turnovers.

Forward Kevin Durant led the Warriors with 26 points and Draymond Green added 21 points with seven rebounds and six assists.

Stephen Curry connected on just six of 20 shots from the field en route to 19 points and Klay Thompson scored just eight points, but Warriors coach Steve Kerr said it was the turnovers and defensive lapses that cost the game.

“Shots go in or shots don’t, but you can control turnovers,” Kerr said. “And out of the 19 turnovers, it didn’t feel like many of them were forced by the defense. It seemed like we were in a rush and too frantic.”

In Cleveland, LeBron James’s bid to become the seventh player in NBA history to reach 30,000 career points was thwarted and the Cavs found themselves looking at a milestone of a far different kind in a humbling 148-124 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

James scored 18 points, falling seven shy of the 30,000 plateau, before departing the game midway through the fourth quarter.

He’ll have another chance to become the youngest player ever to reach 30,000 points when the Cavaliers face the Spurs in San Antonio on Tuesday.

In the meantime, he and the Cavs must try to sort themselves out after the Thunder’s 148 points tied the club record for the most scored against Cleveland in a non-overtime game.

“I don’t think I have ever in my basketball life given up 148 points. Not even in a video game,” James said. “I am not here to look for pity. No one is going to feel sorry for us. We just got to get better.”

Paul George scored 36 points for the Thunder. Carmelo Anthony added 20 and Russell Westbrook produced 23 points, 20 assists and nine rebounds. Kiwi big man Steven Adams added 25 points on 12-of-13 shooting from the field.

– ‘That was embarrassing’ –

The Cavaliers have now lost five of their last six games and nine of 12.

“We’ve got to really look in the mirror, look at ourselves and get some pride,” said Cavaliers guard Isaiah Thomas. “That was embarrassing.”

The Miami Heat, chasing the Cavs for third in the Eastern Conference, took advantage of Cleveland’s struggles as they erased a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to edge the Charlotte Hornets 106-105.

The Heat improved to 27-19, and trail the Cavaliers by half a game for third place in the East.

The 76ers moved into sixth place in the East with a 116-94 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in Philadelphia.

Joel Embiid scored 29 points, pulled down nine rebounds, blocked two shots and came up with one steal to lift the Sixers in his first home game since being named an All-Star Game starter.

The Bucks, who had sat at sixth in the East going into the contest, had to make do without an All-Star of their own as Giannis Antetokounmpo sat out with a sore right knee.

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