Kurt Helin

James Harden has triple-double, Rockets top Clippers (VIDEO)

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HOUSTON (AP) — The Los Angeles Clippers entered their game against the Houston Rockets without star point guard Chris Paul and by halftime they were down another point guard and coach Doc Rivers.

James Harden had a triple-double with 30 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists and the Rockets rolled to a 140-116 victory Friday night.

Clippers guard Austin Rivers and father/coach Doc Rivers were both ejected in the second quarter as Los Angeles dropped its fifth straight.

“(The Rockets) played great and it’s a shame that how beautiful they played will be marred by this crap,” Doc Rivers said. “Because they played great and we didn’t play well.”

It’s the seventh triple-double this season for Harden and his third straight 30-point game. Montrezl Harrell added a career-high 29 points to help Houston win its third in a row.

Raymond Felton had a season-high 26 points to lead the Clippers.

The Rockets had allowed what was once a 25-point lead to dwindle to six points early in the fourth quarter before scoring the next 13 points to make it 126-104 with just under seven minutes remaining. Harrell made six points to power that run and the Clippers went more than four minutes without scoring.

“They made some big shots and tough shots and got it to six,” Harden said. “We handled our business, made some shots and got some stops when we needed to and finished the game off.”

The Rockets had an 18-point lead later in the quarter when Harden hit Harrell with a bounce pass and he made the layup before crashing to the court to give Harden his 10th assist.

The younger Rivers was tossed after missing a layup and slightly pushing referee J.T. Orr with 6:38 left in the second quarter. He yelled at Orr and waved his arms at him after the ejection and was led off the court by a Clippers employee. When he got to the edge of the court, he tried going back toward the referee and had to be held back by the employee and pulled off the court.

Austin Rivers said the contact with the official was an accident.

“I would never put my hands on a ref. I have never done anything like that in my career and it was frustrating to me because he happened to be right behind me,” Austin Rivers said. “He knows I didn’t touch him like that … he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and unfortunately it cost me the game … and it was a big deal for our team me going down.”

During a timeout a few seconds later, Doc Rivers walked toward where all three referees were standing and began yelling at them. He was then ejected by crew chief Jason Phillips. The Rockets led 59-35 when the elder Rivers was ejected.

Phillips said that Rivers was ejected for using “extreme profanity” while complaining about his son being ejected. But Doc Rivers said that wasn’t the case and that he called the timeout because they saw an official call a foul on a layup Marreese Speights made on the play before the timeout, but didn’t give them the free throw.

“I said: `No you forgot to give us the free throw,”‘ Doc Rivers said. “I said: `Come on you guys don’t know what you’re doing.’ That was it.”

It was the second time the pair has been tossed in the same game after they were both ejected late in a loss to the Washington Wizards on Dec. 18. The coach has been ejected three times this season and it’s the fourth career ejection for his son.

TIP-INS

Clippers: J.J Redick returned after missing two games with a sore left hamstring. He had eight points. … DeAndre Jordan had 20 points and 13 rebounds.

Rockets: Beverley returned after missing one game with a bruised thigh. … Houston attempted a season-high 43 free throws. … Harrell has scored at least 10 points in four of the last five games. … The Rockets have scored at least 120 points in three straight games and 13 times this season.

CASSELL HONORED

Los Angeles assistant coach Sam Cassell was honored as part of a season-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Rockets between the first and second quarters. Cassell was drafted by Houston in 1993 and helped the Rockets to consecutive NBA titles in his first two seasons. A highlight video was played on the Jumbotron along with Cassell’s memories of his time with the Rockets. Cassell received a standing ovation when he was shown on live on the screen and welcomed back to Houston. Clippers coach Doc Rivers shook hands with Cassell after that before Beverley ran over and fist-bumped him before play resumed.

PAUL’S HEALTH

Austin Rivers started Friday with Paul out with a sore left hamstring. Paul missed three games with the problem before returning Wednesday night against New Orleans. He played 31 minutes in the loss and Doc Rivers said Paul experienced some fatigue after that game. It’s unclear how long Paul will sit out.

 

Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas scores 52 for Celtics in 117-114 win (VIDEO)

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BOSTON (AP) — Isaiah Thomas scored 29 of his career-high 52 points in the fourth quarter, setting a club record for points in a period and leading Boston to a 117-114 victory over the Miami Heat on Friday night.

Thomas hit six 3-pointers and converted a three-point play in the fourth quarter and broke the franchise record of 24 points in a quarter set by Larry Bird in 1983 and matched by Todd Day in 1995. Thomas also topped his career high of 44 points he scored on Dec. 20, at Memphis.

He entered the fourth period with 23 points and scored the first 11 of the quarter for Boston, which needed Thomas’ scoring outburst to hold off the Heat.

Al Horford and Jaylen Brown were the only Boston players other than Thomas to score in the final period until Marcus Smart hit two free throws to seal it with 6 seconds left.

Paul George brings back fun for Pacers in 111-101 win over Bulls

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Paul George took out his frustrations on the Chicago Bulls, and the Indiana Pacers finally had some fun Friday.

It’s about time.

George scored 32 points including 11 during a closing flurry to help the Pacers snap a four-game losing streak with a 111-101 victory.

“We have a great time in the locker room,” George said. “I was questioning my team to show that on the court.”

They did one day after the three-time All-Star acknowledged publicly he hasn’t had much fun this season.

So less than two hours before tipoff, coach Nate McMillan offered a solution – keep the focus on basketball.

George & Co. made it work all night.

They started fast, making their first seven shots, closed it out by scoring nine of the last 11 points and in between mostly kept the Bulls an arm’s length away.

George was 10 of 20 from the field and was 9 of 9 from the free-throw line. And there was plenty of help to go around.

Myles Turner scored 15 points despite getting into foul trouble, and Jeff Teague had seven points and a career-high 17 assists.

“We had a little more energy, just talking to each other and smacking each other on the back,” Teague said. “We’ve got to continue to play like we did tonight.”

Jimmy Butler scored 25 points and Dwyane Wade added 20, but the Bulls never quite figured it out after facing an early 20-8 deficit.

They didn’t closer than three until Michael Carter-Williams‘ three-point play finally tied the score at 95 with 6:03 to go. After tying it again at 97, George answered with three free throws and a layup to give Indiana a 102-99 lead that it never relinquished.

“We didn’t get stops early or late,” Butler said. “Our play at the very end was frustrating because we came all the way back. Credit Paul George, he’s a heck of a player and can definitely finish.”

TIP-INS

Bulls: Despite having seven turnovers in the first quarter, Chicago trailed 28-22. … Wade left the game with 7:28 to go after appearing to hurt his left wrist after taking an awkward tumble. He returned with 4:07 to go. Even before the game, coach Fred Hoiberg wouldn’t commit to using Wade on Saturday. … Chicago was 6 of 23 on 3-pointers.

Pacers: Scored a season-high 62 first-half points to take 62-50 lead. … The home team has won all four games in this season’s series and this was the last scheduled meeting of the season. … Turner has scored 10 or more points in 13 straight games and now has 22 consecutive games with at least one block. … Glenn Robinson III had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

SITTING RONDO

Bulls guard Rajon Rondo had a miserable night. He picked up two fouls in the first seven minutes and his third late in the first half.

His poor first half, which including more fouls than assists (two) or made shots (zero) combined, earned him a spot on the bench to start the second half. Michael Carter-Williams started in Rondo’s place and scored nine of his 12 points in the final two quarters.

“Nothing surprises me in this league,” Rondo said. “I’m a veteran, I’m a professional. I will always prepare well with the expectation to play and contribute.”

THE HOT SEAT?

Before the game, Hoiberg was asked about a report from earlier this week suggesting his job may be in jeopardy.

The second-year coach tried to shrug off speculation by noting all he really wanted to do was put together a game plan that would help the Bulls play more consistently – and win some games.

 

Clippers Austin Rivers bumps referee, gets ejected; angry Doc Rivers quickly follows

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Midway through the second quarter of a game where his team was getting blown out, the Clippers’ Austin Rivers drove the lane, got bumped while in the air, missed the shot but kind of stumbled over toward the baseline referee, J.T. Orr.

Then Rivers seems to turn and push Orr — not hard, but he made contact, and to me it appears intentional (at least from the one camera angle). Intentional contact is an automatic double technical and ejection — which is exactly what Rivers got. Orr saw the contact as initiated by Rivers, and not because he was stumbling from the play. Rivers was hot, and security had to guide him off the court and to the locker room.

Father/coach Doc Rivers didn’t like that, and promptly got himself ejected for arguing the call.

It’s the holidays, it’s nice that the Rivers family got to spend a little quality time together in the locker room. Just hanging out.

Without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin for the night, the Clippers were getting run out of the building by the Rockets.

John Wall with spinning assist to Otto Porter, later breaks out behind-the-back crossover

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John Wall was putting on a show for the folks at the Verizon Center Friday night.

Above he throws a spinning assist to Otto Porter in transition.

Later in the first quarter, he broke out the behind-the-back crossover move. Throw in a screen from Marcin Gortat, and there was nothing Isaiah Whitehead was going to be able to do to stop this.

Wall was hot shooting to start the game, but when he did miss Gortat was there to clean it up.