Kurt Helin

James Harden, Kyle Singler

Harden leads Rockets to first win, 110-105 over Thunder

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HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden scored 37 points, and the Houston Rockets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 110-105 on Monday night for their first win of the season.

It was the first loss for the Thunder, who won their first three games while the Rockets dropped their first three.

An 8-1 run by the Rockets made it 107-100 with about two minutes left. Harden capped that key stretch with a 3, knocking it down with Russell Westbrook right in his face.

Westbrook made a 3-pointer with 44 seconds left to cut the lead to 108-105, and Harden missed a 3 on the other end. But Westbrook and Kevin Durant both missed 3-pointers on the next possession and Dwight Howard made a pair of free throws with 5.7 seconds left to secure the victory.

Durant led the Thunder with 29 points, and Westbrook added 25 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists.

Harden was 12 of 26 from the field after a tough start to the season. He shot below 30 percent in each of the first three games.

He scored five straight points to put the Rockets on top 97-93 midway through the fourth, but consecutive baskets by Durant and Westbrook tied it back up less than a minute later.

It was just the second game of the season for Howard, who missed the opener because he was suspended for flagrant fouls in the postseason, and also rested on Sunday. Howard missed seven of eight preseason games with a stiff back. He finished with 16 points and eight rebounds.

The teams exchanged the lead several times early in the fourth quarter, once when a 3-pointer by Patrick Beverley gave Houston a 90-89 advantage with less than nine minutes remaining. He beat his chest and mouthed to Westbrook after the score.

Westbrook’s layup put Oklahoma City up 93-92, and the jawing continued, earning both players a technical foul.

A free throw by D.J. Augustin extended Oklahoma City’s lead to four late in the third quarter. But the Rockets scored the last seven points of the period, highlighted by a 3-pointer by Beverley that made it 82-79, putting them on top for the first time since the first quarter.

Oklahoma City led by 10 points midway through the third after a tip-in by Serge Ibaka. The Rockets then found their offense, scoring the next eight points thanks to 3-pointers by Marcus Thornton and Harden to get within 75-73 a couple

Raptors, Terrence Ross reach three-year, $33 million contract extension

Nik Stauskas, Terrence Ross
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Raptors coach Dwyane Casey is hoping Terrence Ross can develop into a sixth man, and now the franchise is betting on him that to happen.

At the last minute going up against the Monday at midnight (Eastern) deadline, the Raptors and Ross reached a deal on a three-year contract extension. Ross himself confirmed it (he counts this year as a fourth).

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports broke the story and had the details.

Toronto Raptors forward Terrence Ross has agreed to a three-year, nearly $33 million contract extension, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The Raptors avoid letting Ross become a free agent next summer when the league salary cap makes a steep rise. Toronto could’ve been forced to match a more expensive offer sheet. The extension begins in the 2016-17 season.

While $11 million is a lot per year, in a couple of years once the television money fully kicks in spiking the NBA salary cap close to $110 million, that will be about sixth man money. The question is will Ross live up to those expectations, but the Raptors wanted to lock him up now rather than let the cash-rich marketplace set his dollar figure come July.

The Ross extension is also insurance should DeMar DeRozan leave as a free agent next summer.

Ross is plenty athletic but has never taken full advantage of that, at least on a consistent basis (remember he did have a 51-point game but he has been up and down for three years). Despite being a former Dunk Contest winner (2013), he’s not the best finisher at the rim. However, he can shoot the three (46.2 percent on the young season), and he’s good in a spot-up role. What the Raptors need out of him is better defense — he is inconsistent on that end as well, seeming just to space out at times.

The potential is there, and the Raptors are betting on it.

Kristaps Porzingis with putback dunk over LaMarcus Aldridge (VIDEO)


Kristaps Porzingis is showing flashes of what he can be.

He had 13 points and 14 rebounds against the Spurs on Monday night, making a few big plays like the putback dunk over LaMarcus Aldridge. He’s not exactly efficient — 5-of-15 shooting — and his defense needs work still, but you can see the potential.

It wasn’t near enough — Aldridge had 19 points, and the Spurs handled the Knicks at Madison Square Garden 94-84.

Late in the game, in a scramble for a ball under the basket, Porzingis went to the ground and Carmelo Anthony came down on top of him. Porzingis stayed on the ground in pain then went directly to the locker room. However, X-rays were negative, and it was described as a soft tissue injury. So, strain. His status is day-to-day, but this is nothing serious, fortunately.

Watch Timberwolves moving video tribute to Flip Saunders


Monday night was the Timberwolves first home game this season, and the evening started with a tribute to the Timberwolves icon and coach Flip Saunders.

Above is the video tribute, with seemingly everyone around the league talking about how they were impressed with Saunders the coach, and more importantly just liked being around and speaking with Saunders the person. There also are touching comments from the current Timberwolves players.

RIP Flip.

The Timberwolves were playing the Trail Blazers Monday, and CSNNW.com had some video from in the arena of the tribute.

LeBron James scores 25,000th career point on impressive alley-oop


Monday night LeBron James became just the 24th player in NBA history to reach 25,000 career points — and he was the youngest to do it at 30 years, 307 days

And he crossed the line in style, finishing an alley-oop from Matthew Dellavedova.

LeBron put up numbers from day one in the league — he averaged 20.9 points per game as a rookie straight out of high school. That gave him an edge in getting to this milestone at a young age (that and he has rarely been injured). It’s just the latest milestone; there will be plenty more before he hangs up his shoes.

By the way, his bucket to get to 24,999 was pretty impressive in its own right.