Sports

Rockets end skid, Mavs silence Thunder

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

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LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — The Houston Rockets take some good news — and perhaps some bad — into 2018, after snapping their five-game NBA losing streak with a 148-142 double-overtime victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

James Harden scored 40 points but departed in the final minute of regulation with a hamstring injury.

Point guard Chris Paul scored 15 of his 28 points in the two overtime periods to carry Houston to a much-needed win on their home floor.

Paul played a part in four straight baskets in the first extra period, but Lakers forward Brandon Ingram made two free throws with eight-tenths of a second remaining to force the second.

In the second extra session, Paul made six free throws in the final minute and Houston took the lead for good on a second-chance basket by reserve forward PJ Tucker — his only points in the contest.

Moments later Tucker swatted away a three-point attempt by the Lakers' Kyle Kuzma.

Trevor Ariza scored 26 points for Houston, who trailed by as many as 17 points.

The sight of Harden limping off must have tempered the Rockets' pleasure in snapping their skid.

Houston coach Mike D'Antoni said it was too early to speculate about the severity of Harden's injury.

“I don't think we'll know until (Monday),” D'Antoni said. “I don't think they'll be able to assess it until (Monday) morning.”

In Los Angeles, Lou Williams came off the bench to score 40 points and propel the Clippers to a 106-98 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.

“He was just a nightmare tonight,” Charlotte forward Frank Kaminsky said of Williams. “He started hitting (three-pointers) early, so we start getting up on his screen.

“He starts driving to the rim, and then he's getting fouled.”

Williams scored 16 points in the first quarter as the Clippers seized the lead. But the Hornets held them to just 13 points in the second period, while fashioning a 28-7 scoring run that put Charlotte up by as many as 14.

Charlotte led by 10 at the interval, but Blake Griffin scored 14 of his 25 points in a third quarter dominated 33-14 by Los Angeles.

While the Hornets remained within striking distance in the fourth, they never got the deficit below four points.

The Boston Celtics held off the determined Brooklyn Nets 108-105 to notch their 30th win of the season.

Trailing by 14 points with 5:59 remaining, the Nets trimmed the deficit to three and had the ball after a timeout with 14.5 seconds left.

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie unleashed a long-range effort that was wildly off-target. Boston guard Kyrie Irving seized the rebound and called a timeout.

On the inbounds play, Irving was fouled and made two free throws to seal the win.

Irving, who scored 28 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Celtics, said the Eastern Conference leaders should have clamped down at the end.

“We've just got to close out better,” he said.

In Oklahoma City, Dallas rookie Dennis Smith Jr produced 11 points in the final 1:39 minutes to lift the Mavericks to a 116-113 victory over the Thunder.

“He was great tonight,” said Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle after Smith contributed 19 points, four rebounds and six assists.

“They were trapping him in the pick-and-rolls. He hasn't seen that. He went through some situations that were very difficult, but he kept his energy up, he kept his head up, he kept attacking.”

Thanks in large part to Smith, the Mavs withstood Thunder star Russell Westbrook's latest triple-double of 38 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists.

Bradley Beal was the star in Washington, scoring 17 of his 39 points in the fourth quarter as the Wizards rallied to beat the Chicago Bulls 114-110.

John Wall scored 21 points for Washington, his three-point play with 29.4 seconds left to play putting the hosts ahead for good.

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