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LeBron ties record with 11th All-NBA pick, Harden unanimous

May 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James matched a record with his 11th All-NBA First Team selection while Houston guard James Harden was a unanimous choice, the NBA announced Thursday.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game One

Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook, San Antonio forward Kawhi Leonard and New Orleans center Anthony Davis were other selections to the select squad, chosen in a global media vote.

None of the Golden State Warriors roster were included in the first team.

James joined Kobe Bryant and Karl Malone as the only players in NBA history to make the First Team 11 times.

Harden was selected to the First Team on all 100 ballots while Westbrook, who joined Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history to average a triple double for a full season, and James, who set career highs in rebounds and assists and led the league in minutes played, were chosen on 99 ballots with Leonard on 96.

Davis had the narrowest call with 45 First Team votes to 43 for Utah’s Rudy Gobert, edging him 343-339 in total points with five for first team votes, three for second and one for third team selections.

Harden made the First team for the third time in four years while Davis, Westbrook and Leonard each made their second appearance on the list.

Harden averaged career highs of 29.1 points, 11.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds a game, leading the NBA in assists and finishing second in scoring to propel the Rockets to the NBA’s third-best record at 55-27. Harden led the NBA by making 746 free throws and hit 262 3-pointers, third in the league.

James, in his 14th NBA campaign, ranked eighth in the NBA with 26.4 points a game and averaged career highs of 8.7 assists and 8.6 rebounds.

The All-NBA Second Team included Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo of Greece, Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas, Gobert and two members of the Warriors, guard Stephen Curry and forward Kevin Durant.

The All-NBA Third Team consisted of Chicago forward Jimmy Butler and Golden State forward Draymond Green, center DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers, Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan and Washington guard John Wall.

Other NBA awards, including Most Valuable Player and Coach of the Year, will be revealed June 26 at the new NBA Awards Show in New York.

Cavaliers, Rockets romp in NBA playoff second-round openers

May 3, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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LeBron James sparked defending NBA champion Cleveland over Toronto while James Harden powered the Houston Rockets to an epic rout of San Antonio in second-round playoff openers on Monday.

Lebron James

James scored 35 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while Kyrie Irving added 24 points and 10 assists and Kevin Love had 18 points and nine rebounds as the Cavaliers ripped the visiting Raptors 116-105 in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference matchup.

“The energy was phenomenal,” James said. “We pushed the ball, passed the ball like we wanted.”

Four-time NBA Most Valuable Player James hit 13-of-23 shots from the floor and 7-of-8 from the free throw line while Tristan Thompson contributed 11 points and 14 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who James warned will be better in game two.

“I feel like I’ll be a lot better on Wednesday,” James said. “Little bit of rhythm here and conditioning there, I think a lot of our mistakes we were able to cover up for because our energy level was high.”

Harden had 20 points and 14 assists while Trevor Ariza scored 23 points and Clint Capela contributed 20 points and 13 rebounds as the Rockets dumped the host Spurs 126-99 to start their best-of-seven Western Conference series.

“It’s just one win,” Harden said. “It’s a good win but we’ve got to be ready for game two. They’ve got a lot of fight in them. We missed a few shots. We’ve got to play better in game two.”

The Rockets sank a team playoff record 22 3-pointers on 50 attempts, inflicting the most 3-pointers allowed by the Spurs in playoff history.

San Antonio trailed by as many as 39 points in the team’s largest game-one defeat in playoff history. The Spurs 69-39 half-time deficit was their worst in playoff history.

“We lost and they won and they played better,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “We competed but I don’t think we executed in a very wise manner.”

The Spurs and Rockets, in their first playoff meeting since 1995, were two of the three winningest teams in the NBA this season, both trailing Golden State, which opens the second round Tuesday against Utah.

A 15-2 run to open the second quarter put Houston ahead 49-25. The Rockets had 30 assists on 40 baskets, their passing and fast pace humbling the veteran Spurs.

“There are no individual efforts here,” Harden said. “I’ve been proud of that all year.”

The Rockets went 12-of-27 from 3-point range in the first half, already hitting more shots from beyond the arc than in any first-round contest.

Kawhi Leonard led San Antonio with 21 points and 11 rebounds but the Spurs made only 31-of-84 shots from the floor.

In Cleveland, the Cavaliers scored 10 consecutive points to grab a 22-11 edge and stretched it to 38-20 early in the second quarter. Up 62-48 at half-time, they led by as many as 25 points on the way to victory.

“I thought they were the quicker team and we have to match that,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.

Irving scored 16 first-half points while James had 13 and Love 11.

“We want to continue to move the ball, share the ball and make everybody feel comfortable with what we’re trying to do,” James said.

The Raptors, who fell to 1-12 in playoff series openers, were led by 20 points from Kyle Lowry and 19 from DeMar DeRozan.

“They get big spurts and we fight back. We have to find ways to eliminate the spurts,” Lowry said. “We know they are going to be a high-flying team that likes to get up and down. But we have to find a way to not let them get going.”

Rockets oust Westbrook’s Thunder, Spurs and Jazz close in

April 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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James Harden scored 34 points and the Houston Rockets withstood a furious effort from Oklahoma City star Russell Westbrook to oust the Thunder from the NBA playoffs on Tuesday.

Harden

The Rockets beat the Thunder 105-99 to win their best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series four games to one.

Rockets reserve Lou Williams scored 10 of his 22 points early in the fourth quarter as the Rockets responded to a sensational third quarter from Westbrook, who carried his team to a 77-72 lead going into the final period.

Westbrook scored 10 straight points in one stretch and finished with 20 points, five rebounds and three assists in the third.

But Williams opened the fourth with two free throws, and added three more from the line along with a three-pointer as the Rockets regained the advantage with Westbrook on the bench – and they held on even after Westbrook re-entered the game as the Thunder missed a string of shots.

Westbrook finished with 47 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, but connected on just two of his 11 shots in the final period.

The defeat brought a close to a historic season for Westbrook, who joined Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history to average a triple-double and beat Robertson’s 55-year-old record for most triple-doubles in a regular season with 42.

In withstanding Westbrook, the Rockets showed they have plenty of defensive ability to go with their free-wheeling offense.

“We’re not just a three-point shooting team,” said Harden, who scored 13 of his 34 points in the final eight minutes.

“We get after it on the defensive end. We’re overlooked. We have been all year. But we’re not really worried about it. We go out there and compete at a high level on both ends of the floor.”

Thunder coach Billy Donovan agreed, calling the Rockets defense “underrated.” That included their defense on Westbrook, said the Rockets’ Patrick Beverly, who took exception to Westbrook’s taunt that “no one can guard me.” The two received double technical fouls for jawing at each other during the game, but Beverly said the Rockets did what they set out to do against Westbrook.

“We did a great job on him,” Beverly said. “We tried to make him take a ton of tough shots.” In the second round the Rockets will face either the San Antonio Spurs or Memphis Grizzlies.

The Spurs, seeded second in the West behind the Golden State Warriors, seized a 3-2 lead in their series Tuesday with a 116-103 victory in San Antonio.

Kawhi Leonard scored 28 points, Patty Mills added 20 and Tony Parker chipped in 16 as the Spurs bounced back from a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Grizzlies in game four.

Reserve point guard Mills made five three-pointers, four of them in the fourth quarter en route to his career-high playoff scoring total.

The effort from Australia’s Mills helped thwart a Grizzlies rally. Memphis trailed by 18 with less than two minutes to play in the third quarter, but a 17-3 scoring run saw them pull within four points with nine minutes to play.

“We made shots, that’s what we didn’t do the last game,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, whose team will try to wrap up the series in game six on Thursday in Memphis.

The Utah Jazz are also closing in on a second-round berth after a 96-92 victory over the Clippers in Los Angeles.

Gordon Hayward scored 27 points and pulled down eight rebounds for the Jazz, who took a 3-2 series lead with game six in Salt Lake City on Friday.

Rodney Hood scored 16 points and Joe Johnson produced nine of his 14 in the fourth quarter for Utah, who had 11 points and 11 rebounds from French big man Rudy Gobert.

Chris Paul scored 28 points for the Clippers, who played their second game without standout scorer Blake Griffin, who will miss the rest of the playoffs with a right big toe injury.

The winners of the series will face the Warriors, who swept the Portland Trail Blazers in four games.

Harden on fire as Rockets down Cavaliers

March 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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James Harden exploded for 38 points as the Houston Rockets jolted LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers with a 117-112 victory on Sunday.

HArden

Harden led the scoring and completed his 16th triple-double of the season with 10 rebounds and 11 assists as the Rockets improved to 46-21 to strengthen their grip on third spot in the Western Conference standings.

Harden was one of six Houston players to make double figures, with Ryan Anderson the next top scorer with 16 points while Patrick Beverley and Eric Gordon both weighed in with 13 apiece.

Cleveland, who fell to 43-22, were reliant of James and Kyrie Irving to provide the bulk of their points.

James led the Cavs scoring with 30 points while Irving weighed with 28. Only one other Cleveland player — Richard Jefferson with 16 — made double figures at Houston’s Toyota Center.

With the exception of James and Irving, a weary Cavs line-up looked to be suffering after-effects from Saturday’s road game in Orlando, where no fewer than seven players had posted double figures.

Harden’s virtuoso display ultimately tipped a back-and-forth battle Houston’s way.

The 27-year-old point guard’s 11-point third quarter was crucial as Houston wiped out a nine-point halftime deficit to haul the Rockets back into the contest.

A high-quality game saw both teams exchange a series of long-range field goals in the opening period.

Cleveland looked to have taken a grip on the game with a red-hot shooting spree which saw them drain six consecutive three-pointers.

Jefferson was responsible for three of those efforts as Cleveland went 57-45 ahead early in the third period.

But Harden led Houston back into the game and the Rockets’ superior depth of scoring ultimately told in the fourth quarter.

Harden’s double-double powers Rockets over Magic

February 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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James Harden scored 25 points and passed off 12 assists to spark the Houston Rockets over visiting Orlando 128-104 in one of only three NBA games played on Tuesday.

Harden

Harden, who ranks third in NBA scoring with 28.9 points a game and first in assists with 11.4 per contest, achieved his 43rd double double of the season as the Rockets cracked 100 points for the 41st consecutive game, third-longest run in NBA history.

Houston’s Trevor Ariza scored 20 points, 14 of them in the first quarter, and Eric Gordon finished with 18 off the bench while Patrick Beverley added 17 points, six rebounds and seven assists as six Rockets scored in double figures.

Forward Serge Ibaka scored a game-high 28 points and guard Evan Fournier added 21 for the Magic while Orlando center Nikola Vucevic had 14 points and 19 rebounds.

The Rockets improved to 38-17, third in the Western Conference and fourth overall in the NBA, while Orlando fell to 20-34, 13th in the Eastern Conference and five games out of the last playoff berth.

Portland’s C.J. McCollum scored the last of his game-high 32 points on a last-second jumper to give the Trail Blazers a 114-113 victory at Dallas.

McCollum scored Portland’s last seven points to secure the victory.

Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki sank a 3-pointer to put the Mavericks ahead 108-107 but McCollum answered with a jumper to put Portland back in front.

Devin Harris answered with a basket but a three-point play by McCollum with 12 seconds remaining put the Trail Blazers ahead 112-110.

Nowitzki followed with another 3-pointer to lift Dallas in front only to have McCollum swipe the victory with his last-second heroics.

Portland’s Damian Lillard added 29 points while Harrison Barnes led Dallas with 26, Nowitzki added 25 and Wesley Matthews contributed 23.

US guard Kemba Walker, Italian swingman Marco Belinelli and French forward Nicolas Batum scored 17 points each as the Charlotte Hornets snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 111-107 victory over the visiting Brooklyn Nets.

The Hornets took advantage of the NBA’s worst team, delivering the Nets a 10th consecutive loss.

Charlotte, which lost 12 of the past 15 games, seized a 17-point halftime lead and never trailed from there, but shut down a Brooklyn rally that got he Nets within two points in the final minute before four Belinelli free throws in the last 15 seconds sealed the victory.

Rockets set NBA three-point record

December 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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James Harden delivered his second straight triple double as the Houston Rockets made an NBA record 24 three pointers in a 122-100 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday.

Rockets

The Rockets continued their record-setting ways this season, setting the single game mark for threes made and attempted (64).

Eric Gordon scored a season-high 29 points as the Rockets improved to 20-7 and extended their winning streak to nine games.

“I think it’ll happen again for sure,” Gordon said. “A lot of teams like to load up trying to not let us get layups and it forces us to shoot threes. It’s like, ‘Why not?’ I think we’ll have that chance again.”

Houston finished one three pointer shy of matching the old record of 23, which they shared with the Golden State Warriors, on Wednesday night in their 34-point win over the Sacramento Kings.

Houston had held the mark for three-pointers attempted (50), which they set in Sacramento on November 25.

Harden finished with 29 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists to set a franchise record with his 15th triple-double.

Gordon shot 10 for 17 in 27 minutes off the bench, while forward Trevor Ariza finished with 20 points on five-for-14 three-point shooting.

Forward Anthony Davis led the Pelicans with 19 points despite playing just 22 minutes. Davis left in the third quarter with a left lower-leg contusion.

Former Rockets forward Terrence Jones came off the bench to score 16 points and eight rebounds for New Orleans, which has lost six of seven games against Houston.

“He just got kicked, and the game wasn’t in a position where I thought that it was worth the risk to put him back out there,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said of Davis. “And we just weren’t going to do it.”

Harden’s 36 sees Rockets past Nets in NBA

December 13, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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A 36-point display from James Harden and a towering defensive performance from Trevor Ariza helped Houston edge past Brooklyn 122-118 to hand the Rockets a seventh straight win.

HArden

Harden on Monday contributed eight rebounds and 11 assists while Eric Gordon added 24 points off the bench as Houston improved to 18-7 at the Toyota Center.

But while Harden finished as top-scorer, it was the eye-catching performance of Ariza that helped Houston get over the line.

Ariza produced a superb block of a layup attempt from Nets guard Joe Harris shortly before the buzzer to snuff out any chance of Brooklyn forcing overtime.

Nets center Brook Lopez scored 26 points for the visitors with Sean Kilpatrick and Isaiah Whitehead contributing 30 points between them. Jeremy Lin added 10 points and seven assists.

Harden was relieved the Rockets had survived a furious late assault led by Lopez.

“This is the NBA,” Harden said. “You’ve got guys that can get confidence and make shots, and it’s tough to put (the fire) out. Lopez started to get it going early, and they threw the ball to him and he was just scoring. But we got stops when we needed to.”

Nets coach Kenny Atkinson meanwhile drew consolation from the return of Lin, making his first appearance since November 2.

“It helps having Jeremy back,” Atkinson said. “It just gives us organization. He’s a veteran and he had seven assists in 20 minutes, and I think that was big.

“He knows where to give Brook the ball and when to give Brook the ball, and that’s from his experience.”

The Rockets are now level with Western Conference rivals the Los Angeles Clippers, who improved to 18-7 with a pulsating win over the Portland Trail Blazers at the Staples Center.

Blake Griffin scored 26 points while Chris Paul added 21 points and 14 assists as the Clippers dug deep to win a nail-biting battle 121-120.

Elsewhere Monday, DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points and gave a flawless display of free throw shooting as the Toronto Raptors downed the Milwaukee Bucks on 122-100.

Terrence Ross also weighed in with 25 points after appearing from the bench as the Raptors improved to 17-7 to stay hard on the heels of Eastern Conference leaders Cleveland.

DeRozan also went 15-for-15 from the free throw line as Toronto bagged their third consecutive victory and ninth in 10 games while the Bucks slumped to a third straight defeat.

Giannis Antetokounmpo topscored for the Bucks with 30 points and eight rebounds but it was not enough to stop the team slipping to 11-12.

The Raptors were always in control of the contest, building a 26-point lead at one stage in the first half before a Milwaukee fightback saw them move to within eight points in the third.

However an 11-point blast from Ross in the fourth quarter pushed the Raptors back out to a 23-point lead with just over five minutes left.

Kyle Lowry also chipped in with 18 points for Toronto, while DeMarre Carroll added 13 and Jonas Valanciunas 11.

“(The Raptors) were in character the whole night from the start; we weren’t,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. “Our defense was non-existent.”

In Indianapolis, Paul George and Myles Turner led the Indiana Pacers with 22 points each in a 110-94 win over the Charlotte Hornets.

Jeff Teague scored 16 points with 11 assists as the Pacers pulled away in the fourth quarter, outscoring Charlotte 34-21 to seal victory.

Marco Belinelli topscored for Charlotte with 14 points on a night to forget for the visitors, who shot only 33 percent from the field as their record fell to 14-11.

Indiana improved to 13-12 with the win.

Philadelphia 76ers freefall continues as they drop to 0-17

November 28, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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James Harden drained a season-high 50 points as the Houston Rockets held on to beat hapless Philadelphia 116-114, handing the 76ers their record 27th straight loss.

HArden

It was the third career 50 point game for Harden, who now has the most in franchise history as he surpassed Hakeem Olajuwon, Moses Malone and Elvin Hayes who had two each.

The sad sack Sixers hit another low as they equaled their franchise-worst 0-17 start from last season.

With 27 consecutive losses dating back to March 27, Philadelphia now owns the record for the longest losing streak in North American major professional sports. The NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost 26 in row from 1976-77.

The Buccaneers went 0-14 in their first season in 1976 and started 0-12 in 1977 before beating New Orleans.

Harden added nine rebounds and eight assists, but also contributed nine turnovers in the win at Toyota Center arena.

The 76ers fought hard in the final quarter, but it wasn’t enough to avoid also setting an NBA record with their 27th consecutive loss over multiple seasons.

Harden leads Rockets win, Curry OK after scary fall

May 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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A playoff career-high 45 points by James Harden sparked the Houston Rockets to a 128-115 must-win victory Monday over the Golden State Warriors, denying the Warriors an easy path to the NBA Finals.

Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets - Game Four

The Warriors had a scare and then breathed a sigh of relief after NBA Player of the Year Stephen Curry suffered a bruise to the back of his head after a bad fall in the second quarter but then returned to the game.

Houston got their first win in the series, pulling to 3-1 in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals and forcing a fifth game Wednesday in Oakland. They snapped Golden State’s six-game win streak.

“We’re going to come out with some great intensity,” Harden said. “They are a tough team and we know we have to work hard.”

Curry called his spill the scariest fall he has suffered in a game, although he added he has been hurt worse and will be ready for game five.

“I will be fine,” Curry said. “I feel pretty good. Just not how I envisioned the game going, disappointed we lost. I came out of that relatively OK and tried to go in there and give my team something.”

Curry passed mandatory NBA concussion tests before being allowed back into the game midway into the third quarter.

“Obviously it’s always scary when a guy hits his neck,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He was up and went back to the locker room. Our doctors cleared him and he’s doing fine.”

While the Rockets prevented a sweep, no team in NBA history has recovered from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series.

“We’re a really good team when we are moving the ball and working together,” Harden said. “We’ve got to do a better job of being consistent.”

Harden made 13-of-22 shots from the floor, including 7-of-11 from 3-point range, and added nine rebounds and five assists.

“He played a hell of a game,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said.

The Rockets improved to 4-0 in playoff games when facing elimination, the first team with such a post-season run since the 2006 Phoenix Suns.

“We don’t want to go home,” Rockets center Dwight Howard said. “We came out and played as hard as we could, left it all on the floor and when you do that, good things will happen.”

The West champion will face the Eastern Conference champion in the NBA Finals starting June 4. Cleveland leads Atlanta 3-0 in the East with game four on Tuesday.

The Rockets opened a 12-0 lead in the first 3:15 and stretched it to 45-22 after the first quarter.

“The game was won in the first quarter,” Kerr said. “They were more ready than we were. We were on our heels. They were making shots from everywhere. The came out on fire.”

Curry’s severe fall came when he leaped into the air as Houston’s Trevor Ariza went up for a shot. Curry soared over Ariza and fell hard onto the floor, landing on the back of his head and neck.

“That was the scariest one because you are in the air for a long time and you know you’re going to hit the floor,” Curry said.

“It’s a bad feeling. Once the situation changes completely in the air, you see you’ve got no control over yourself. It could have been a lot worse.”

Curry stayed on the court for several minutes before being escorted to the locker room.

“I could hear voices from trainers saying take my time, don’t rush myself getting up,” Curry said. “I was still a little in shock from the feeling of falling. I got back to the locker room and gathered myself and was able to get back out there.”

Curry finished with 23 points, including six 3-point baskets.

The Warriors, seeking their first trip to the NBA Finals since winning the 1975 title, became the first team to lose after making 20 3-point shots, as the teams combined for a record 37 3-point baskets.

The Rockets, who have not reached the NBA Finals since winning the title in 1995, had lost all seven prior games against Golden State in the playoffs and regular season.

Howard had 14 points and 12 rebounds while Josh Smith had 20 points for the Rocketsand Ariza added 17.

Klay Thompson led Golden State with 24 points while Draymond Green added 21 points and 15 rebounds.

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