Rockets topple Warriors, Thunder embarrass Cavs

Monday, January 22, 2018

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LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — The Houston Rockets ended the Golden State Warriors' 14-game road winning streak on 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 matchup 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 with Harden, Paul and Capela 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 defence. It seemed like we were in a rush and too frantic.”

In Cleveland, LeBron James' 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.

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.

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

The Miami Heat pulled within half a game of Cleveland for third place in the Eastern Conference, erasing a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to edge the Charlotte Hornets 106-105.

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 had to make do without an All-Star of their own as Giannis Antetokounmpo sat out with a sore right knee.

Andrew Wiggins scored 29 points for the Timberwolves and Karl-Anthony Towns scored all 22 of his points in the second half as the hosts rallied from a double-digit first-half deficit.

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