Harden scores 44, Rockets pull away from Pacers 110-100
INDIANAPOLIS: James Harden found all the cracks in Indiana’s defense Monday night.
The three-time All-Star scored 19 of his 44 points in the fourth quarter; including 12 during a decisive 4-minute flurry that helped the Houston Rockets pull away for a 110-100 victory over the Pacers, who have lost six in a row.
Even against one of the NBA’s staunchest defenses.
While some teams cringe at the sight of facing the Pacers, Harden seems to have embraced it.
He scored 45 points in the season’s first matchup and nearly did it again Monday when he was 10 of 21 from the field and 21 of 22 from the free throw line with seven assists, four rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Houston (47-23) has won four of five.
How good was Harden on a night when the Rockets were short-handed
He matched the Pacers point-for-point in the first quarter, 15-15, and put them away by hitting 3-pointers, driving to the basket and drawing fouls in a nearly perfect fourth.
The Pacers (30-40) didn’t have an answer on a tough shooting night.
C.J. Watson scored 23 points and George Hill finished with 20, but Indiana’s fading playoff hopes took another hit. The Pacers haven’t won since March 12, dropping them from sixth place in the East to 10th – two spots out of the playoffs. They are barely ahead of 11th-place Brooklyn.
Harden’s 21 free throws were the most ever made by a Pacers opponent, and they came two nights after Indiana allowed a franchise-record shooting percentage on its home court to Brooklyn.
Houston closed the quarter on an 8-2 run to make it 76-68, rebuilt a double-digit margin early in the fourth and relied on Harden to deliver the knockout punch late.
Timberwolves win in overtime, Celtics beat Nets to end skid
SALT LAKE CITY: The future of the Minnesota Timberwolves gave a glimpse of what might be Monday night.
Timberwolves rookies Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins combined to score 49 points, leading their injury-ravaged team to a 106-104 overtime victory against the Utah Jazz.
It was the seventh road win of the season for Minnesota (16-54), which won for only the third time this month.
LaVine, winner of the NBA’s slam dunk contest last month, scored 27 points. He made two 3-pointers to force overtime, rallying the Timberwolves after they trailed by five with 1:02 left in regulation.
The Jazz (31-39) were without leading scorer Gordon Hayward for the second time this season. He sat out with a sprained shoulder.
Utah clearly missed Hayward, who is averaging 19.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.
NEW YORK: Boston coach Brad Stevens thought his Celtics tightened up down the stretch of a tough home loss Sunday that dropped them out of playoff position.
The Celtics made the final minutes stress-free Monday night – and the reward was a spot right back in the top eight.
Evan Turner had 19 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds, and Boston beat the Brooklyn Nets 110-91 to snap a three-game losing streak.
Avery Bradley scored 20 points to lead the Celtics, who moved a half-game ahead of Charlotte for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Tyler Zeller and Kelly Olynyk each had 18 points for Boston, which quickly pulled away in the third quarter to bounce back from a 105-97 overtime loss to Detroit at home on Sunday.
Marcus Smart was back for Boston after being suspended one game for punching San Antonio’s Matt Bonner in the groin, which Stevens called an “unacceptable play.”
Smart started but was replaced by Jae Crowder to open the third quarter.
Williams had 10 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds for the Nets, who went 1 for 17 (6 percent) from 3-point range.
Results: Houston Rockets 110 beat Indiana Pacers 100, Boston Celtics 110 beat Brooklyn Nets 91, Memphis Grizzlies 103 beat New York Knicks 82, Chicago Bulls 98 beat Charlotte Hornets 86, Minnesota Timberwolves 106 beat Utah Jazz 104, Golden State Warriors 107 beat Washington Wizards 76