Mad Mike’s blast fires up Rock­ets

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - VIEWS - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Hous­ton Rock­ets had a dou­ble-digit lead in the third quar­ter against the Dallas Mav­er­icks on Saturday, but af­ter get­ting care­less and hav­ing three turnovers in a row, Rock­ets coach Mike D’An­toni had seen enough.

“Coach went off a lit­tle bit,” Trevor Ariza said. “I think that was the turn­ing point for us to get our head in the game and for us to start play­ing the way we nor­mally play.”

Soon af­ter that, Ariza — who fin­ished with 17 points — made three straight 3-point­ers to pad the lead and the Rock­ets beat the Mav­er­icks 109-87 for their sixth straight win.

“They turned it on when they needed to and then as a coach you kind of feel silly some­times ... (but) you just try to cau­tion them be­cause things hap­pen and they’re a good 3-point shoot­ing team, they get hot,” D’An­toni said.

James Har­den had 18 points, 16 as­sists and nine re­bounds and Eric Gor­don added 18 points to give Hous­ton its first sixgame win­ning streak since Oct. 28-Nov. 6, 2014.

Gor­don’s 3-pointer ex­tended Hous­ton’s lead to 16 in the fourth quar­ter be­fore Har­ri­son Barnes hit a bas­ket on the other end.

Mon­trezl Har­rell then made an off-bal­ance layup as he was fouled and crashed to the court. He made the free throw to leave Hous­ton up 92-75.

Wes­ley Matthews made a 3 with about six min­utes left to get the Mav­er­icks within 12. But Pa­trick Bev­er­ley, who scored all of his 15 points in the fourth quar­ter, hit 3s on the next two pos­ses­sions to push Hous­ton’s lead to 100-82.

Matthews scored 26 points to lead the Mav­er­icks and Barnes fin­ished with 20.

“When you get off to a bad start on the road, it just makes it harder,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “We hung in and kept it within 10 or 11 a lot of the game, but it was hard get­ting over the hump.”

A layup by Seth Curry cut Hous­ton’s lead to nine points mid­way through the third quar­ter. That’s when Ariza got hot, mak­ing 3-point­ers on three straight pos­ses­sions to power a 9-4 run that pushed

lead early, led 61-38 at half­time and kept build­ing in the third quar­ter.

Golden State ended a fourgame win­ning streak. The War­riors had won 16 of 17, the lone loss in the stretch com­ing 132127 in dou­ble over­time to Hous­ton on Dec 1.

Kerr benched his starters with 10 min­utes left and Mem­phis lead­ing 93-65.

It was just one of those rare nights for Golden State, which en­tered with the league’s best record at 20-3. The War­riors had a sea­son low in points, a sea­son high in turnovers (23) and were close to their sea­son low in shoot­ing statis­tics (44.2 per­cent).

Golden State’s 38 first-half points were its fewest in any half this sea­son.

“We weren’t on the same page. We were try­ing to force too many things,” Thomp­son said, adding that the Griz­zlies “def­i­nitely took us out of our rhythm early, and we let that af­fect us on the of­fen­sive end and the de­fen­sive end.”

The lead bal­looned to 68-38 when Mem­phis scored the first seven points of the sec­ond half, and the Griz­zlies held an 87-65 lead af­ter three quar­ters.

Har­ri­son Barnes drives past Hous­ton Rock­ets guard James Har­den dur­ing the first half of their NBA game on Saturday. Rock­ets won 109-87

Hous­ton’s lead to 75-61.

“It was a drag, it was dull and we couldn’t find en­ergy,” Har­den said. “But Trevor made some big shots, got us go­ing and pushed the lead up go­ing to the fourth quar­ter.”

Gor­don and Sam Dekker added 3-point­ers af­ter that to leave the Rock­ets up 86-69 en­ter­ing the fourth quar­ter.

Ariza made four 3s to move past Shane Bat­tier for fourth on Hous­ton’s all-time 3-pointer list with 579.

Har­den’s 16 as­sists were his most since he had 17 in Hous­ton’s sea­son opener.

Mo­ments af­ter the fight ended, pro­moter Ed­die Hearn stepped into the ring to an­nounce an April 29 bout against Ukrainian Kl­itschko at Lon­don’s Wem­b­ley Sta­dium for the “uni­fied heavy­weight cham­pi­onship of the world”.

That can be taken as hy­per­bole, much as Hearn’s as­ser­tion that it would be the “big­gest fight in Bri­tish box­ing his­tory”, with New Zealan­der Joseph Parker the new­ly­crowned WBO cham­pion and Amer­i­can Wilder still hold­ing the WBC belt.

Bri­tain’s Tyson Fury, who beat Kl­itschko in Novem­ber 2015, va­cated the WBA and WBO belts in Oc­to­ber af­ter hav­ing his li­cense sus­pended pend­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of anti-dop­ing and med­i­cal is­sues.

Fury was al­ready stripped of the IBF belt for not fight­ing a manda­tory challenger.

“We move on to a big­ger arena, more peo­ple can view it. This is the step up peo­ple have wanted. Kl­itschko wants his belts back, may the best man win,” said Joshua af­ter his sec­ond de­fense.

Kl­itschko, who was watch­ing ring­side at the Manch­ester Arena, stepped through the ropes for some early eye­balling.

“He is the best man in the divi­sion and I be­lieve this ex­cite­ment speaks for it­self. This is what the fans want and this fight must hap­pen,” said the 40-year-old.

“He was clear, clean and won by knock­out and, as his next op­po­nent, it was good I was here to ob­serve it and make my notes.”

The WBA last month of­fi­cially sanc­tioned the match be­tween the two fight­ers for the va­cant ti­tle.

ERIC CHRIS­TIAN SMITH / AP

Dallas Mav­er­icks for­ward

An­thony Joshua

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