HAR­DEN SPARKS ROCK­ETS

Hous­ton star records an­other triple­dou­ble in vic­tory over Cavaliers

New Straits Times - - Sport -

JAMES Har­den’s 16th triple-dou­ble of the sea­son led the Hous­ton Rock­ets to vic­tory over the Cleve­land Cavaliers on Sun­day as Bos­ton sent Chicago spin­ning to their fifth con­sec­u­tive de­feat.

Har­den topped the scor­ing with 38 points as the Rock­ets im­proved to 46-21 to strengthen their grip on third spot in the Western Con­fer­ence stand­ings in Texas with a 117-112 win.

Har­den was one of six Hous­ton play­ers to make dou­ble fig­ures, with Ryan An­der­son the next top scorer with 16 points, while Pa­trick Bev­er­ley and Eric Gor­don both weighed in with 13 apiece.

Cleve­land, who fell to 43-22, were re­liant on LeBron James and Kyrie Irv­ing to pro­vide the bulk of their points.

James led the Cavs scor­ing with 30 points while Irv­ing weighed with 28. Only one other Cleve­land player — Richard Jef­fer­son with 16 — made dou­ble fig­ures at Hous­ton’s Toy­ota Cen­tre.

With the ex­cep­tion of James and Irv­ing, a weary Cavs line-up looked to be suf­fer­ing af­ter-ef­fects from Satur­day’s road game in Or­lando, where no fewer than seven play­ers had posted dou­ble fig­ures.

In Bos­ton, the Celtics crushed vis­it­ing Chicago 100-80 to leave the Bulls re­flect­ing on a fifth straight loss.

Avery Bradley had 17 points and grabbed six re­bounds while Al Hor­ford con­trib­uted 12 points, seven re­bounds and six as­sists for the Celtics, who scored the first 13 points and cruised to vic­tory.

The Celtics im­proved to 42-25, just be­hind Wash­ing­ton (41-24) and lead­ers Cleve­land. The Bulls slid to 31-35, 10th in the East and 1 1/2 games be­hind Mil­wau­kee for the fi­nal play­off berth.

The Bulls man­aged only 26 points in the first half, the fewest al­lowed the first two quarters by Bos­ton all sea­son.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens was sat­is­fied with Bos­ton’s ruth­less ap­proach against a side strug­gling for con­fi­dence.

“That’s an easy game to kind of make an ex­cuse about and not play the best you can,” Stevens said. “I thought our guys came out do­ing the right thing.”

Added Isa­iah Thomas: “We played hard, we got loose balls, we de­fended mul­ti­ple ac­tions.”

Bulls star Dwyane Wade, who fin­ished with only eight points, said Chicago were still “ex­per­i­ment­ing.”

“As I said the other day, we’re go­ing to take some lumps. Some of them are go­ing to be big lumps. Some of them go­ing to be small lumps. Tonight was a big one,” said Wade, who was coy when asked about the hunger of his team­mates to reach the play­offs.

“You have to ask each in­di­vid­ual that ques­tion. I can’t an­swer for ev­ery­body. I’m here, I’ll show up the next game. Try to do what I can.”

RE­SULTS: Philadel­phia 118 LA Lak­ers 116, Hous­ton 117 Cleve­land 112, Port­land 110 Phoenix 101, Brook­lyn 120 NY Knicks 112, In­di­ana 102 Mi­ami 98, Bos­ton 100 Chicago 80.

AP PIC

Cleve­land Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irv­ing (left) is guarded by Hous­ton Rock­ets’ Pa­trick Bev­er­ley and Nene Hi­lario at Toy­ota Cen­tre on Sun­day.

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