MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE – James Harden did everything he could to bring the Houston Rockets back from a big deficit in the fourth quarter. He got them to overtime, but his 57 points weren’t enough.
All because of a last-second free throw.
Mike Conley scored 35 points and Jonas Valanciunas had a career-best 33, including the game-winning free throw with less than a second left, as the Memphis Grizzlies outlasted the Rockets 126-125 on Wednesday night.
“We put ourselves in a hole and tried to pick it up, but it was too late,” Harden said. “We were down (17), so I had to do something.”
Harden led a 17-2 Houston rally in the fourth — scoring 15 points during that stretch — to pull the Rockets to 106-104. He hit three free throws with 4 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime tied at 115.
Harden scored all 10 points for Houston in overtime and the teams were still tied at 125 when Clint Capela fouled Valanciunas with 0.1 seconds left. Valanciunas, who also had 15 rebounds, made the first of two free throws. The clock ran out after he missed the second foul shot.
Chris Paul had 18 points and seven assists for Houston, which had won three straight. Capela added 14 points and 10 rebounds. The loss was only Houston’s second in the last 14 games.
“It was one of those games. Every once in a while it crops up,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “You’ve got to go on. It’s too bad, but we just kind of threw that away.”
Memphis dominated the game through 3½ quarters until the Harden-led comeback. Conley made all six of his shots, including a quartet of 3-pointers, in the first quarter. Valanciunas made all nine of his shots in the first half.
But despite the double-digit lead into the fourth, the Grizzlies had to weather Harden’s 28 points after the third quarter.
“It got crazy there for a little bit,” Conley said. “That was a fun game. It’s the kind of game you want to be a part of — big plays, big opportunities for everybody. The way it ended was wild.
“I’m just happy we got away with a win.”
76ers 118, Celtics 115
In Philadelphia, Joel Embiid had 37 points, 22 rebounds and a key block on Kyrie Irving with 35 seconds remaining, and Jimmy Butler scored 15 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter to lead the 76ers over Boston for their sixth straight victory.
Tobias Harris added 21 points for Philadelphia, which avoided a season sweep by the Celtics. The Sixers (47-25) holds the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race, three games ahead of idle Indiana and four in front of fifth-place Boston.
Irving scored 36 points for the Celtics.
The game was tied at 113 with a minute left before Ben Simmons converted a three-point play. He banked in a shot with his right hand and got fouled by Marcus Morris, hitting the free throw to make it 116-113 with 40.8 seconds to go. Embiid then rejected a driving Irving on Boston’s ensuing possession and Butler sealed it with a long jumper from the wing with 4.7 ticks remaining.
Heat 110, Spurs 105
In San Antonio, Goran Dragic had 22 points and Miami snapped the Spurs’ nine-game winning streak, sending Dwyane Wade home a winner in his final game in San Antonio.
Dion Waiters added 18 points and Josh Richardson had 15 for Miami, which has won three straight.
San Antonio’s previous loss was Feb. 25 in Brooklyn as part of their 1-7 Rodeo Road Trip. The Spurs had won 11 straight at home.
The Spurs had six players in double figures, but only two starters. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 17 points and DeRozan added 16. Patty Mills and Marco Belinelli added 17 apiece.
In Other Games
Cavaliers 107, Bucks 102
Magic 119, Pelicans 96
Jazz 137, Knicks 116
Bulls 126, Wizards 120
Trail Blazers 126, Mavericks 118
Raptors 123, Thunder 114
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5