CLEVELAND (AP) — James Harden scored 27 points and the Houston Rockets rallied from a 20-point deficit for a 106-100 victory Tuesday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who rested LeBron James.
Harden scored 18 points in the fourth quarter and Houston outscored Cleveland 35-16 in the period.
Dwight Howard‘s free throw with 2:13 left put Houston ahead 95-94. Harden’s 3-pointer made it 98-94 before Kyrie Irving hit a 3-pointer with 1:30 left, making it a one-point game.
Both teams missed shots on their next possession, but Trevor Ariza‘s 3-pointer from the corner with 17 seconds left gave Houston a 101-97 lead.
Irving scored 31 points for Cleveland, which fell to 1-3 this season and 4-13 over the last two when James doesn’t play.
Cleveland (52-22) leads Toronto by 2 1/2 games for the top seed in the East. Houston (37-38) moved a half-game ahead of Dallas for the eighth spot in the West.
Michael Beasley scored 17 points, while Ariza added 15 for Houston. Howard had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson had 16 points and 10 rebounds in his 362nd consecutive game, the longest streak in franchise history. Kevin Love added 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Houston won despite a dreadful night from the foul line, where the Rockets were 21 of 42. Howard was 7 of 22.
Cleveland led 91-83 on Thompson’s basket with 6:36 to go, but the Rockets used a 12-0 run to go ahead. The Cavaliers didn’t score again until Irving hit a free throw with 2:44 left. Irving’s jumper with 2:17 to go tied the game at 94.
Cleveland led 62-42 early in the third quarter before Houston rallied.
Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue announced Monday that James would sit out the game as the Cavaliers try to rest their key players as much as possible over the final games of the regular season.
James, dressed in a sports jacket, jumped up from the bench several times to encourage his teammates and joined Lue near midcourt to bark out instructions late in the second quarter.
Cleveland made six 3-pointers in the second and built a 59-40 halftime lead.
Rockets: Houston scored 14 points and made 5 of 18 shots in the second quarter. … The Rockets snapped a four-game losing streak on the road.
Cavaliers: James is four points away from passing Dominique Wilkins for 12th place on the NBA’s career scoring list. The four-time MVP has 26,665 career points.
Rockets: Host Chicago on Thursday.
Cavaliers: Host Brooklyn on Thursday
Nicolas Batum notches triple-double, 76ers remain in play for most losses in season
PHILADELPHIA — Nicolas Batum had 19 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists for his second triple-double of the season, leading the Charlotte Hornets to a 100-85 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night.
Cody Zeller added 18 points and 11 boards for Charlotte, which set a franchise record for wins in a month with its 13th victory in March.
The Hornets, who entered the game in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, also inched closer to clinching their first playoff spot in two years and just second postseason berth in the last 13 years. Charlotte hasn’t won a playoff series, though, since 2002.
The teams both have off until Friday, when they will play again in Charlotte for the fourth and final meeting of the season.
Short-handed Philadelphia, which dressed just 10 players, lost its 10th straight game and 23rd in the last 24.
The 76ers were playing without top big man Nerlens Noel, who missed his fourth straight game with a right knee contusion. Also out for Philadelphia were forwards Jerami Grant (right knee/quad) and Richaun Holmes (Achilles’). Rookie Jahlil Okafor is sidelined for the season with a torn right meniscus.
Philadelphia dropped to 9-66 and still can match the 1972-73 76ers, who finished 9-73, for the worst NBA record over an 82-game season. Of the 76ers’ seven remaining games, four are against teams that began play on Tuesday with losing records and out of the playoffs. Perhaps Philadelphia’s best chance for a victory will coming next week when hosting the Pelicans (27-46), Knicks (30-45) and Bucks (30-44) in succession.
Kemba Walker drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1.3 seconds remaining in the second quarter to give Charlotte a comfortable 16-point lead at the half. Philadelphia never cut the deficit under 10 points in the second half.
Walker finished with 16 points.
Philadelphia veteran forward Elton Brand, forced into action, had seven points and nine rebounds in 19 minutes. Brand showed his competitive drive by diving into the scorer’s table during one sequence, drawing cheers from 76ers fans.
Three of the four teams that competed in the NCAA East Regional in Philadelphia over the weekend were represented by 76ers and Hornets. Charlotte’s Marvin Williams and Tyler Hansbrough and Philadelphia’s Kendall Marshall went to North Carolina; the Hornets’ Frank Kaminsky attended Wisconsin; and Charlotte’s Cody Zeller played at Indiana. Neither team had any players from Notre Dame.
Hornets: The Hornets lead the season series 3-0, having also defeated the 76ers 119-99 on March 2 in Philadelphia and 113-88 on Nov. 2 in Charlotte. . The Hornets finished 3-1 on a four-game road trip that included wins over Milwaukee and Brooklyn and a loss to Detroit. . G Jeremy Lin (sore back) didn’t play. . Batum’s triple-double was the sixth of his career. . The Hornets committed just seven fouls.
76ers: Okafor was in the locker room on crutches before the game. . Recently retired referee Joe Crawford was in attendance. . Philadelphia attempted a season-high 43 3-pointers, making 16 of them.
Hornets: Host Philadelphia Friday night.
76ers: At Charlotte Friday night.
Russell Westbrook takes exception with Reggie Jackson’s celebration
Jackson was the guy hopping around the court celebrating Detroit’s 88-82 win over his former team.
“Honestly, I think it’s some real bullshit,” Westbrook said. “I don’t appreciate it from our team and our organization. I don’t like it all. But it is what is. We’ll see him down the line. We’ll take care of that when we get there.
“It doesn’t matter. Honestly, he wasn’t changing nothing for us. Obviously, he didn’t want to be here. He’s in a better spot. He’s not doing too much of a difference, if you ask me.
Jackson had a verybitterend with Oklahoma City, which traded him to the Pistons last season. In Detroit, Jackson has escaped Westbrook’s shadow and become the Pistons starting point guard, even drawing All-Star consideration.
If Westbrook thinks Jackson isn’t making a difference here, he doesn’t realize how underwhelming Detroit’s point guard situation was with D.J. Augustin, John Lucas III and an injured Brandon Jennings. Jackson isn’t Westbrook, but he can still help a team.
It’s also hypocritical for Westbrook to call out an opponent for histrionics. Westbrook shows off plenty himself – and I have no problem with that. It’s an emotional game.
Jackson has slumped lately, but he dunked and made 4-of-4 free throws in crunch time to help the Pistons pull out the win. While the Thunder looked locked into the No. 3 seed in the West – they rested Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka tonight – Detroit is in the heat of a playoff race.
Why shouldn’t Jackson be excited? And if he’s excited, why shouldn’t he show it?
Some of Jackson’s joy was certainly directed at the Thunder, but so what? You’ll see plenty of more extravagant celebrations around the league.
To be fair, Westbrook wasn’t the only Oklahoma City player to take exception to Jackson. “I’m surprised, that’s all. It says a lot about him. Keep it up here,” Steven Adams said pointing at his head, “for next time. He can do whatever.”
But with Westbrook, when it comes to Jackson, it always seems personal – which is great. I disagree with Westbrook’s stance, but I love that he wears his emotions on his sleeve. These petty feuds make the sport more fun.
It was a frustrating night for Westbrook, who shot 8-for-28. He also stumbled on an Aron Baynes screen as his nemesis drove for his late dunk:
Even after the game, Westbrook dropped his plastic knife on the floor as he handled his dinner. Westbrook threw up his hands, as if to say, what else could go wrong?
Then, he delivered a message for Jackson.
“He’s going stay over here in Detroit. We’re going to stay over here,” Westbrook said. “We’ll see them next season.”