Kurt Helin

James Harden has 46 and Rockets beat Blazers 119-105

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — James Harden scored 46 points and the Houston Rockets overcame a 21-point, third-quarter deficit to beat the Trail Blazers 119-105 on Thursday night, snapping Portland’s six-game winning streak.

Dwight Howard added 19 points and 13 rebounds for Houston, which had lost four of five. But the Rockets proved resilient against the Blazers, rallying to tie it at 95 on Harden’s layup with 7:40 left, then taking the lead on Howard’s dunk.

The Rockets pushed with lead to 106-98 with 2:59 left and Portland couldn’t catch up. Harden’s layup and a pair of free throws stretched the lead to 112-102 and out of reach.

Damian Lillard had 23 points for the Blazers, who had won 15 of their last 18 to move into playoff position in the Western Conference. CJ McCollum added 20 points.

Lillard, who was showered with chants of “MVP! MVP!” every time he went to the free throw line earlier in the game, had scored 30 or more points in five consecutive games, equaling a team record set by Geoff Petrie in 1970-71, the franchise’s first season. But the Rockets consistently double-teamed him.

Houston’s last visit to Portland on Feb. 10 resulted in a 116-103 loss that prompted Houston coach J.B. Bickerstaff to call his team “broken.”

Portland’s win in that game touched off the six-game winning streak, which included a surprising 137-105 rout of Golden State. The Blazers were coming off a 112-104 victory over Brooklyn on Tuesday night.

The Rockets were coming off a 117-114 overtime loss at Utah on Tuesday.

Maurice Harkless hit a 38-foot hurl at the buzzer to end the first quarter, putting Portland up 34-28. The Blazers stretched the lead to 57-39 on McCollum’s short jumper.

Portland was up 64-49 at the half, with Lillard at 12 points and McCollum at 11. Howard, Harden and Patrick Beverley were in double figures on Houston’s side.

McCollum’s 3-pointer early in the third quarter stretched the lead to 72-51. But Jason Terry‘s 3 for Houston closed the gap to 85-75 late in the period.

Harden hit consecutive 3-pointers that got the Rockets within 91-83, part of a run where he scored 14 straight points for the Rockets.

The Rockets were without center Clint Capela because of a sprained right foot that he hurt in practice on Wednesday.

TIP INS:

Rockets: Portland native Terrence Jones made his second appearance for the Rockets after a concussion sidelined him for five games. … Before the game, Rockets CEO Tad Brown met with team beat reporters and shot down reports that Harden had asked for former coach Kevin McHale’s firing, or that he had asked for Howard to be traded.

Trail Blazers: The Blazers head off on a six-game road trip. … The Blazers took their team photo before the game and coach Terry Stotts smiled. “I always smile – unless they tell me not to,” he said.

 

Aaron Gordon literally jumped out of his shoes Wednesday

in the Verizon Slam Dunk Contest during NBA All-Star Weekend 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 13, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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We’ve seen Aaron Gordon jump out of the building and over a mascot.

He’s got such hops his pair of Nike Hyperrev 2016s couldn’t contain him.

Personally, I love Hyperrevs, I wore a pair for pickup for a couple of years until recently (when I switched to the Air Jordan XXX), but to be honest I don’t have quite the same explosion as Gordon. Actually, your grandmother probably has better hops than me.

It’s unclear when Gordon destroyed his shoe, but it could have been a dunk like this one from that game.

Suns GM admits regret for trading Isaiah Thomas at deadline last year

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After some success in 2013-14 with the Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic two-guard backcourt, the Phoenix Suns decided to double-down on that and added Isaiah Thomas to the mix last season. It didn’t work. By the deadline GM Ryan McDonough was trading Thomas to Boston and looking to move on from that experiment.

Thomas was given the keys to the Celtics offense this season and played his way into the All-Star Game.

In an interview with 98.7 Arizona Sports, McDonough admits moving Thomas — for a rental of Marcus Thornton and Cleveland’s first-round pick this year — was a mistake.

“I think in retrospect trading Isaiah Thomas when we did was a mistake,” he said of last season’s trade deadline deal with the Boston Celtics. “I think sometimes in the recruitment process things sound better in July (luring Thomas in free agency) than they do in November.

“He wanted more, he wanted a bigger role and I understand why: He’s a talented player,” McDonough added. “In retrospect, we should have carried him into the summer. If there’s one (decision) that stands out, if I could get a mulligan, that’d be it.”

It’s good to see a GM admit his mistake. And his impatience was a mistake, in this case, something he corrected with Markieff Morris, where McDonough waited until he got a good deal in return.

PBT Podcast: Where does Joe Johnson land this season? Kevin Durant next one?

Brooklyn Nets' Joe Johnson celebrates after teammate Bojan Bogdanovic makes a 3-point basket during the overtime period of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Friday, March 20, 2015, in New York. The Nets won the game 129-127. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
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Joe Johnson has been set free from Brooklyn — at a cost of $3 million to himself — and seems headed to Cleveland.

Although in this PBT PodcastKurt Helin and Dan Feldman discuss how Oklahoma City might be a better landing spot.

After that the pair discusses the other news of the day such as James Harden reportedly forcing Kevin McHale out in Houston, Marc Gasol‘s broken foot, and if Kevin Durant may play for the Warriors next season.

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunesdownload it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.

Wizards sign forward J.J. Hickson for remainder of season

at Pepsi Center on November 9, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Blazers 108-104. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Wizards have signed J.J. Hickson for the remainder of the season after the forward was bought out by the Denver Nuggets earlier in the week.

Hickson averaged 6.9 points and 4.4 rebounds in 20 games for the Nuggets this season. In 519 NBA games with Cleveland, Sacramento, Portland and Denver, he has averaged 9.7 points and 6.9 rebounds.

The 27-year-old joins Markieff Morris among Wizards newcomers. Washington acquired from the Phoenix Suns at the trade deadline.

Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld says Hickson is a solid veteran who will bring more depth to the frontcourt.