James Harden scores 42, rallies Rockets past Bulls 121-117 in OT (VIDEO)

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HOUSTON (AP) James Harden had 42 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists to rally the Houston Rockets past the Chicago Bulls 121-117 in overtime Friday night.

Harden hit a step-back jumper over Paul Zipser with 36.1 seconds remaining in the extra period and was fouled. He made the free throw to give the Rockets a two-point lead they never relinquished.

After losing to Atlanta on Thursday night, the Rockets improved to 12-1 this season in the second of back-to-back games.

The Bulls played without star forward Jimmy Butler, who was nursing a bruised heel. Starting in his place, Michael Carter-Williams had 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists before fouling out with two minutes remaining in overtime.

Harden hit a step-back jumper over Carter-Williams to tie the game at 108 with 27.3 seconds remaining in regulation.

On the next possession, Dwyane Wade lost his dribble when guarded by Trevor Ariza, leading to a shot-clock violation with 3.3 seconds to go. Harden tried the same move against Carter-Williams at the buzzer, but his shot fell short.

Chicago dominated the Rockets’ interior defense, outscoring Houston 60-46 in the paint. Taj Gibson scored 20 points for the Bulls, and Wade had 19 points, nine rebounds and six assists.

The Rockets built a lead that reached 17 midway through the second quarter as they opened the period on a 26-7 run, all with Harden on the bench. Chicago cut Houston’s lead to 60-49 at halftime.

The Bulls started the third quarter on a run of their own, outscoring the Rockets 24-12 out of the extended halftime break and entered the fourth quarter with a two-point lead.

In a special halftime ceremony, the Rockets retired Yao Ming’s No. 11 jersey with a dedication that featured Yao’s family, former teammates, fellow Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutombo as well as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

TIP-INS

Bulls: In the fourth quarter, Zipser was elbowed in the face by Harden on a rebound and called for a foul. After a review, Harden also received a technical foul. . Zipser, Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic all scored in double figures off the bench.

Rockets: Harden scored his 10,000th point with the Rockets late in the second quarter. He passed Yao for sixth place in franchise history. Harden scored 2,795 points in his first three seasons with Oklahoma City. . Ryan Anderson‘s shooting woes continued as he went 0 for 7 from the field, including 0 for 6 from 3-point range. He also missed both his free throw attempts.

UP NEXT

Bulls: Visit the Sacramento Kings on Monday night, the third stop on a six-game road trip.

Rockets: Host the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night, the first of six straight games against teams with losing records.

Stephen Curry Curry to play Web.com Tour’s Ellie Mae Classic

AP Photo/Eric Risberg
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HAYWARD, Calif. (AP) — Two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry is set to test his golf game against the pros.

The Web.com Tour said Wednesday that Curry, coming off his second NBA championship with the Golden State Warriors, will play in the Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae on Aug. 3-6.

It’ll be the first PGA Tour-sanctioned event for Curry, who has competed in various celebrity events and pro-ams. The top 25 on Web.com Tour’s regular-season money list will earn PGA Tour cards.

Curry will maintain his amateur status, competing on an unrestricted sponsor exemption in the event that benefits the Warriors Community Foundation.

Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice played in the event in 2011 and 2012. He missed the cut in 2011 with rounds of 83 and 76 and withdrew in 2012 after playing 27 holes in 23 over.

Also Wednesday, Nissan’s upscale Infiniti brand announced that Curry would be its new global brand ambassador. The point guard will be featured in ads for the Q50 sports sedan beginning this summer.

Report: Clippers never committed to offer Chris Paul five-year max contract

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The Clippers projected to be able to offer Chris Paul a five-year, $201 million contract that would have culminated with a $46 million salary in his final season.

Did they offer that much before sending him to the Rockets?

Just as one side is trying to pin all the Clippers’ problems on Doc Rivers and Austin Rivers, the Clippers surely want to spin Paul’s exit to another way – that they shrewdly chose when to part ways rather than that they lost the best player in franchise history due to nepotism.

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

If Paul really wanted that five-year max, he could have pushed harder for it by bringing counter offers to the Clippers in July rather than engineering his way to Houston before free agency even began.

Would the Clippers have eventually relented and offered the five-year max? We can never know for certain.

But it’s pretty clear why the Clippers would want this version out there. Accurate or not, it makes them seem far more on top of things and is less likely to taint them with free agents they covet in 2018.

How Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza complicate Rockets’ pursuit of third star

AP Photo/John Raoux
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After pairing Chris Paul and James Harden, the Rockets are reportedly chasing a third starPaul George, Carmelo Anthony or someone else.

But Houston parted with significant assets to land Paul from the Clippers. And the Rockets will have a tricky time dealing two remaining players, Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

Unloading Ryan Anderson to sign Paul outright would have helped Houston keep one of their outgoing guards, but the market for the three years and $60 million left on Anderson’s deal was frigid. Not even the Kings wanted him for free. At least two teams would have demanded two Houston first-round picks in exchange for absorbing Anderson, according to several league sources.

The salary filler probably can’t be Trevor Ariza, by the way. Ariza and Paul are close after years together in New Orleans, and playing with Ariza factored at least a little into Paul’s decision, per league sources. The Clippers had tried to trade for him in prior seasons, sources say. Ariza is also still good at a coveted position, and his Bird Rights will be valuable to a capped-out Rockets team next summer.

Anderson would be dangerous as a stretch four in pick-and-pops with Paul and Harden. Even if he’s overpaid, might be better to keep him than surrender more assets to dump him.

Likewise, Ariza is a nice two-way player and can play small-ball four. There’s a use for him on this team.

But beyond them, Houston is left with Eric Gordon and Clint Capela as movable players. Gordon, with a higher salary and less obvious fit with Paul and Harden, would almost certainly be a key cog in a trade for another star. Capela is younger and more valuable, though the Rockets would probably want to keep him as a defensive anchor.

That might not be possible while trading for a third star, though. Houston can’t even guarantee sending out another first-round pick in a trade after sending a protected first-rounder to the Clippers. (The Rockets could agree to convey a first-rounder two years after sending one to L.A., which would is highly likely to convey next year.) Including Capela in a trade might be the only way to assemble a suitable package.

Even then, Houston would be hard-pressed to surpass an offer from the Lakers or Celtics for George. Plus, if Indiana is rebuilding around Myles Turner, Capela is an awkward fit. That trade might require a third team – causing further complications.

Hoping Anthony gets bought out by the Knicks then signs for the mid-level exception is much simpler – though that route returns the lesser third star.

But Daryl Morey just brought Chris Paul to Houston before free agency even began. Now is not the time to underestimate the Rockets general manager.

Report: Knicks won’t consider Isiah Thomas to run front office

AP Photo/Seth Wenig
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A couple years ago, Knicks owner James Dolan said there was no scenario Isiah Thomas would return to the Knicks.

But Dolan also said a few months ago he’d keep Phil Jackson for the duration of Jackson’s five-year contract.

With Dolan effectively firing Jackson today, could Thomas become the Knicks’ next president?

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

The Post also learned Liberty president Isiah Thomas would not be considered for Jackson’s successor.

It’s sad that this needs to be reported. It’s even sadder that, even if this the Knicks’ plans right now, there are no assurances Dolan holds steady.

Dumping Jackson is a reason to celebrate. But as long as Dolan owns the team, it must be a reserved celebration.

At least the Knicks’ next step won’t include Thomas. Probably.