NBA scoring leader James Harden netted 35 points to lead the Houston Rockets over Toronto 107-95 on March 5, 2019 (STREETER LECKA)
Washington (AFP) – James Harden scored 35 points on a poor shooting night and Gerald Green added 18 off the bench Tuesday as the Houston Rockets beat Toronto 107-95 in a showdown of NBA title contenders.
NBA scoring leader Harden went 12-of-30 from the floor, sinking only 3-of-9 from 3-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 and Oklahoma City 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 leader Milwaukee.
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.
Western Conference leader Golden State, seeking a fourth NBA title in five seasons, was set to face Boston in a later game. The visiting Celtics are a league-worst 1-5 since the NBA All-Star Game.
Austin Rivers, Eric Gordon and Green each scored five points in a 17-2 run over four minutes that gave the Rockets a 42-23 lead near the middle of the second period on the way to 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 3-pointers to lead the spurt for the Raptors and later added a jumper for a 60-59 Toronto lead, their first since 11-10 in the opening quarter.
Houston answered with an 14-2 run to open the fourth quarter, Green making three 3-pointers in the run as the Rockets grabbed an 83-73 edge.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Harden and P.J. Tucker put Houston ahead 94-80 and the Rockets frustrated Toronto to the finish.
– Big night for Towns –
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 ovr visiting Portland. Delon Wright added 25 off the bench for Memphis, while C.J. 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.
J.J. Redick scored 26 points to lead six double-digit scorers for Philadelphia in a 114-106 victory over visiting Orlando.
Tobias Harris added 21 points and 12 rebounds for the 76ers while Australia’s Ben Simmons contributed 16 points and game-highs of 13 rebounds and eight assists.
Frenchman Evan Fournier led the Magic with 25 points while Aaron Gordon added 24 for Orlando.
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