Basketball / NBA

James Harden scores 35 to lead Rockets past Raptors

AP

James Harden and the Houston Rockets watched a big lead evaporate, yet managed to keep their winning streak intact.

Harden scored 19 of his 35 points in the final quarter, Gerald Green had 11 of his 18 in the fourth and the Rockets beat the Toronto Raptors 107-95 on Tuesday night.

The win came a day after it was announced the two teams will face each other in a pair of preseason games in Japan during October.

Eric Gordon and Austin Rivers each scored 13 points as the Rockets won their sixth straight, matching a season high.

Kawhi Leonard scored 26 points and Serge Ibaka had 10 points and 15 rebounds for Toronto. Pascal Siakam had 17 points, and Danny Green 14 as the Raptors had their seven-game home winning streak snapped.

Harden, the NBA’s leading scorer, made 12 of 30 shots, including three of nine from long range. He was perfect at the foul line, hitting all eight of his attempts.

Houston’s Chris Paul said his MVP teammate makes scoring look easy. It isn’t, Paul cautioned.

“If it was that easy, everybody would do it,” Paul said.

Harden, who eclipsed 18,000 career points Tuesday, has scored 28 or more points in 39 straight games. It’s the second-longest streak in NBA history. Wilt Chamberlain (71 games) holds the record.

The Raptors overcame a 22-point second quarter deficit to reclaim the lead in the third, but couldn’t hold on in the fourth. The Rockets turned it on, connecting on seven of their first eight shot from 3-point range. Houston made 15 of 34 attempts from beyond the arc.

“We locked back in,” Harden said. “Our second unit did an unbelievable job of getting stops and creating opportunities on offense, and that was the game.”

Harden made six of seven field goals in the fourth, including a pair of 3-pointers. He also had five foul shots in the quarter.

“I was playing well, but I wasn’t shooting it well,” Harden said of his performance through three quarters. “I had a lot of opportunities at the rim that I didn’t convert on, so I wanted to make sure I converted on those, because that was the game right there.”

The Rockets outscored the Raptors 23-7 on fast break points and turned 13 Toronto turnovers into 26 points. Houston had scored 17 points off turnovers before allowing any of their own.

“We’ve just got to do better,” Siakam said. “Not enough energy.”

Teammates Kyle Lowry echoed Siakam’s comments on the heels of Toronto’s second straight defeat. The Raptors lost in overtime at Detroit on Sunday. Toronto is 3-3 since the All-Star break

“We’ve got to play harder as a group and continue to get better,” Lowry said.

CELTICS 128, WARRIORS 95

In Oakland, Gordon Hayward scored 30 points off the bench, Kyrie Irving had 19 points and 11 assists, and Boston ran away from the Warriors early in a game that turned testy with the two-time defending champions down big.

Jayson Tatum scored 17 points for the Celtics, who came in having lost five of six since the All-Star break.

Stephen Curry provided a bright spot with 23 points and four 3-pointers on a night Splash Brother Klay Thompson sat out with soreness in his right knee.

Kevin Durant scored 18 points but committed five turnovers, while DeMarcus Cousins wound up with 10 points on 4-for-12 shooting — missing all five of his 3-point tries — and nine rebounds to go with four turnovers.

In Other Games

76ers 114, Magic 106

Pacers 105, Bulls 96

Grizzlies 120, Trail Blazers 111

Timberwolves 131, Thunder 120