Harden powers shorthanded Rockets past Pacers


Los Angeles (AFP)

James Harden scored 44 points and had eight rebounds as the Houston Rockets beat the Indiana Pacers 111-102 on Friday night to stretch their winning streak to six games.

Harden scored 40-plus points for the fourth time in six contests and carried the injury-hit Rockets on his back.

When Harden needed a rest in the third quarter, Ben McLemore picked up the slack, scoring 10 of his season-high 21 points in the third.

At one point, Harden scored 12 straight points in the fourth to give Houston a double-digit lead. Harden also tallied five assists and four steals.

Houston played without Clint Capela (concussion), Eric Gordon (right knee surgery) and Danuel House Jr. (sore back).

Russell Westbrook had 17 points but shot just five of 21 from the floor for the Rockets.

Domantas Sabonis finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Pacers, who shot just eight for 33 from beyond the arc.

Elsewhere, Malik Monk nailed a 26-foot three-point basket at the buzzer as the Charlotte Hornets stepped up their game at both ends of the floor for a 109-106 win over the Detroit Pistons.

Marvin Williams and Monk each had a three pointer in the last 24 seconds after Langston Galloway hit a shot from beyond the arc to give Detroit a three-point lead with 50 seconds remaining in the fourth.

Pistons Derrick Rose turned the ball over with one second on the clock to give Charlotte an opportunity to steal the win.

Monk took the inbound pass from teammate Cody Martin and drained the winning shot to snap the Hornets' four game losing skid.

Monk and Terry Rozier scored 19 points apiece for Charlotte.

Devonte' Graham poured in 18 points, P.J. Washington added 11 points, and Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo each had 10 points as the Hornets balanced scoring was backed up by some superb defensive plays.

Galloway scored 32 points and Blake Griffin finished with 19 for the struggling Pistons, who have lost four straight.

Also, Evan Fournier hit two clutch three-pointers in the final 2 1/2 minutes to pace the Orlando Magic to a 111-109 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs led by as many as 16 points in the first half but Orlando stormed back and turned the game into a see-saw contest.

Fournier finished with 26 points as the host Magic won their third game in the last four.

Aaron Gordon hit two free throws with 13 seconds to play and Nikola Vucevic added another less than a second later to make it 110-106 and give the Magic a comfortable lead.

Terrence Ross added 20 points off the bench for the Magic, with Gordon hitting for 14, Al-Farouq Aminu and Markelle Fultz adding 13 points each.

DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs with 21 points, with Rudy Gay scoring 14 and LaMarcus Aldridge and Patty Mills scoring 13 points each for the Spurs, who have lost four consecutive games.