NBA wrap: history-making freak maintains the rage
JAMES Harden showed off his MVP credentials once again as he registered 43 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists in his fourth straight 40-point game, leading the Houston Rockets to a 113-101 win over the Memphis Grizzlies in his team's fifth consecutive victory.
Harden set an NBA record with his eighth straight game with at least 35 points and five assists, besting Oscar Robertson, who twice had seven-game streaks.
Harden finished with his fourth triple-double this season and 39th overall.
Houston has won 10 of its past 11 to improve to 21-15.
Harden continued an incredible run that has powered Houston's surge up the Western Conference standings after a slow start, making six three-pointers and 21 of 27 free throws.
He has made at least four three-pointers in eight straight games and has finished with 30 points or more in 10 games in a row.
In his past 11 outings Harden is averaging 39.7 points, 8.5 assists and 6.3 rebounds a game.
"He's by far the MVP, no one does what he does on a nightly basis," Houston coach Mike D'Antoni said after the game about his biggest star.
Harden drained just eight attempts from the field as he did a lot of his damage from the charity stripe. It reportedly makes him the first NBA player to ever score 40 or more points in a game from eight field goals or less.
The Grizzlies cut the lead to nine with about 90 seconds left but PJ Tucker made a free throw for Houston before Austin Rivers added a lay-up to make it 113-101 and seal the victory with about 35 seconds left.
Harden grabbed his 10th rebound seconds after that to complete his triple-double.
Kyle Anderson had 20 points and Mike Conley added 19 for the Grizzlies, who lost for the seventh time in nine games.
Houston was up by 13 to start the fourth and back-to-back baskets by Clint Capela made it 93-77 with about nine minutes left. Harden made four straight free throws for the Rockets later in the fourth to leave them up 98-83.
But the Grizzlies scored four quick points, with the last basket coming when Anderson stole the ball from Harden, to cut the lead to 98-87 with just over five minutes to go.
Gerald Green answered with a three-pointer and Houston stretched the lead to 103-87 with about four minutes left.
The Rockets led by double digits for most of the night and were up by 23 after two free throws by Harden midway through the third quarter. Memphis closed out the third with a 14-3 run to get within 86-73 entering the fourth. Marc Gasol led the way in that stretch, scoring five points.
The Rockets led 61-38 at half-time behind 28 points from Harden. He capped his huge first half by making two threes in the last 31 seconds of the half, capped by one that was well behind the line with Anderson in his face.
WESTBROOK LIVES UP TO HIS PROMISE
RUSSELL Westbrook tallied 32 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists as the Oklahoma City Thunder gained a split of their back-to-back against the Dallas Mavericks, never trailing in a 122-102 victory.
Paul George added 22 points and Jerami Grant had 16 for the Thunder, who had dropped three of their past four games.
That included a 105-103 loss at Dallas on Sunday, when Oklahoma City blew a six-point lead in the final 1:59 and Westbrook went four of 22 from the field and scored only nine points.
Westbrook promised after that game: "We play tomorrow and I'll be better from then on."
He was true to his word, going 13 of 24 from the field and knocking down midrange bank shots with regularity as the Thunder built a 60-43 half-time lead.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle burned five of his seven timeouts in the first half in an effort to stem the tide, but the Mavericks proved unable to overcome a one-for-nine start from the field. Dallas committed 29 turnovers, the most ever by a Thunder opponent.
Harrison Barnes led Dallas with 25 points, matching his career high with seven three-pointers in nine attempts, and Luca Doncic had 17 points. The Mavericks are 2-16 on the road, offsetting their 15-3 home record.
As the Mavericks were misfiring to start the game, George scored 16 points in the first quarter as Oklahoma City built a 17-point lead. The Thunder led by as many as 22 in the first half.
Consecutive three-pointers by Dennis Smith Jr and Doncic pulled Dallas within 69-57, but a bucket by George, a steal and lay-up by Westbrook and an alley-oop dunk by Grant off Westbrook's pass led Carlisle to burn his final timeout at the 6:45 mark of the third quarter, with his team down 75-57.
Despite going eight of 13 from three-point range in the quarter, Dallas made no headway, trailing 92-75 at its end. Barnes hit two more three-pointers to cut the margin to 94-81 with 10:59 left, but George scored and Abdel Nader followed with a three-pointer to rebuild Oklahoma City's lead.
Dallas came no closer than 14 points the rest of the way.
CURRY LEADS THE WAY
STEPHEN Curry scored 34 points and Kevin Durant added 25, leading the Golden State Warriors to a 132-109 victory over the Phoenix Suns.
The Warriors beat the Suns for the 17th straight time, including eight in a row in Phoenix.
Golden State was 14 for 28 on three-pointers, with Curry going five of nine. Deandre Ayton had 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Suns, who have lost five of six. T.J Warren added 24 points and Devin Booker 20.
Golden State led for all but one minute, 17 seconds of the first quarter and went ahead 39-31 on a three from Curry with 10 minutes to go in the second. Curry had 12 points in the second quarter and added a team-high nine rebounds for the game.
The Suns scored the next eight points to tie it, and were even at 45 before the Warriors closed out the half on a 24-7 run.
A three from Andre Iguodala, a layup and free throw from Jonas Jerebko and Iguodala's pair of free throws gave the Warriors a 69-52 lead at the break. Ayton's hook shot with 6:19 left in the third quarter cut the Warriors' lead to 82-72, but Golden State took control again.
A three and two free throws from Durant gave the Warriors a 100-81 lead with 1:38 to play.
Quinn Cook knocked down a three just before the third-quarter buzzer for a 108-87 lead, and Curry's two threes early in the fourth quarter helped Golden State go up by 27 points.