Rockets rally to down Lakers in overtime, Thunder and Kings win thrillers

Monday, January 21, 2019

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Los Angeles , United States (AFP) — James Harden scored 48 points as the Houston Rockets rallied from a 21-point deficit to down the Los Angeles Lakers 138-134 in overtime on a drama-filled NBA Saturday.

Paul George was the hero for Oklahoma City, his 31 points including a decisive four-point play in the dying seconds that sparked the Thunder to a 117-115 victory over Philadelphia.

And Sacramento guard Buddy Hield's running three-pointer beat the buzzer to give the Kings a 103-101 victory over the Detroit Pistons.

Harden's latest gem followed his 58- and 57-point performances in his last two games.

But the Rockets never led until Eric Gordon's three-pointer seconds into overtime put them up 123-120.

Gordon, who finished with 30 points, had forced overtime with a three-pointer that knotted the score at 120-120 with two seconds left in regulation.

“That's what he does,” Harden said of Gordon, who also drained four free throws in the waning seconds of overtime. “He makes big-time shots. He gave us plenty tonight and we needed every bit of it.”

The depleted Lakers, still missing injured superstar LeBron James and Rajon Rondo, dominated the first half and took a 64-46 lead into the break.

But the Lakers lost Lonzo Ball to a sprained left ankle in the third quarter and their lead was down to four points heading into the final period.

Lakers coach Luke Walton —who was ejected after yelling at officials shortly after teammates carried Ball off the court — said the team would know more about Ball's injury after an MRI exam.

“I love the way our guys competed,” said Walton after Kyle Kuzma paced the Lakers with 32 points and Brandon Ingram added 21. “They gave us everything they had.”

It wasn't enough against the Rockets and Harden, who notched his 19th straight game with 30 or more points. He has scored 40 in 10 of his last 13.

“I'm just trying to do whatever it takes to rack up as many wins as we can,” Harden said.

Oklahoma City's win was their 19th straight against the 76ers — the longest active NBA streak of one team defeating another.

Excitement built as Philadelphia's Jimmy Butler intercepted a pass aimed at Thunder big man Steven Adams of New Zealand and drove in for a layup with 6.9 seconds remaining to give the 76ers a 115-113 advantage.

But after a timeout George took an inbounds pass and fired a three-pointer while being fouled by Butler.

George sank a free throw to create the final margin.

“I got the shot I wanted coming off the screen and I got a good look at the basket,” George said.

In Atlanta, the Boston Celtics trailed much of the night but rallied in the fourth quarter for a 113-105 victory over the Hawks.

Kyrie Irving scored 32 points and Jaylen Brown added nine of his 14 points in the final period as the Celtics posted a third straight win.

Boston's Marcus Smart was ejected late in the third quarter after an altercation with Atlanta's DeAndre Bembry, teammates restraining Smart as he tried to charge the Hawks player.

Things remained tight at the top of the Eastern Conference as the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors both won.

Eric Bledsoe scored a season-high 30 points to lead the Bucks to a 118-108 victory over the Magic in Orlando.

The Bucks led by as many as 19 points but the Magic chipped away to reduce the deficit to just two points early in the fourth quarter.

Milwaukee's fourth-straight win pushed the Bucks' record to 33-12, while the Raptors improved to 35-13 with a 119-90 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

With star forward Kawhi Leonard inactive for rest, the Raptors were led by Danny Green's 24 points.

Green made seven three-pointers in the third quarter — a franchise record for one period.

The Indiana Pacers bounced back from a 24-point loss to the Philadelphia 76ers with a 111-99 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

Tyreke Evans led the Pacers with 19 points. Darren Collison and Domantas Sabonis added 16 apiece and the Pacers limited the Mavericks' star rookie Luka Doncic to eight points in the victory.

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