Kurt Helin

Watch James Harden’s triple double against Raptors in Rockets’ win


The up-and-down Houston Rockets had lost three in a row and needed a win to stay right in the mix for the playoffs in the West.

They got it thanks to a triple-double from James Harden. Well, it helped that DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry got tossed in the fourth quarter, but it was more Harden and his 32 points and playmaking that made it happen. He got help from Michael Beasley (9-of-12 shots for 21 points) and Patrick Beverley (17). He didn’t get much help from Dwight Howard, who coasted through this one.

With the win, the Rockets are now the seven seed and half a game ahead of Dallas and Utah who are eight and nine. This was a good win for the Rockets, but they need more.

Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell leaves game with moderate ankle sprain


Fortunately, this was not too serious.

Lakers’ rookie point guard D'Angelo Russell was chasing Nuggets guard D.J. Augustin after a high pick, when Augustin slowed so he could make the pass to the roll man, and with that Russell steps on Augustin’s foot. Russell rolls his ankle and goes to the floor.

The Lakers said later that X-rays were negative and that it is a moderate ankle sprain. Which means he will miss a few more games before he can get back on the court.

Spurs to rest Duncan, Parker, Ginobili against Thunder Saturday, Monday vs. Grizzlies

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Steve Kerr wants to get his key Warriors players some rest down the stretch, he’s talked about it plenty. But with Golden State’s desire to chase 73 wins, he’s going to have to platoon rest for Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and the rest so they keep racking up wins.

Gregg Popovich is under no such obligation.

With the Spurs four games back of the Warriors with 11 to play, he knows he’s not getting the top seed. So Popovich is doing what he does — resting guys en mass. National television game or not.

The Spurs and Thunder are likely second-round playoff opponents, why play any cards or give OKC more confidence now?

The Spurs are sitting out Kawhi Leonard on Friday night against Memphis due to a minor quad injury. He could miss one or both of the following games as well.

Yes, the Warriors and Spurs play a couple more times, but don’t expect either team to stop resting players or tip their strategy hands in that one. Those two games will have the Xs and Os complexity of the Pro Bowl.

GM Dell Demps, coach Alvin Gentry say they are on same page, not concerned about jobs

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The rumor/conventional wisdom around the league is that with New Orleans Saints power broker Mickey Loomis having a larger say in the running of the Pelicans, and with the struggles of the Pelicans this season, GM Dell Demps is in serious trouble.

Then on Friday comes a report from Adrian Wojnarowski that Demps has been second guessing his decision last summer to hire Alvin Gentry as coach. (Demps needed a defensive coach or to overhaul the roster for Gentry’s preferred up-tempo style, instead it was square pegs in round holes.)

In the wake of that report, both Gentry and Demps seemed to try to play things down and sound like guys who would be back next season. Together. From Brett Dawson of the New Orleans Advocate.

Nothing to see here, move along.

That’s what they’re selling right now. As the pair should. But that doesn’t mean the reports are not true (Demps trying to share blame sounds like a guy on the hot seat trying to save his job). We can expect major changes in the Pelicans roster and structure this summer. They need to put better players around Anthony Davis sooner rather than later.

No surprise, Dirk Nowitzki says he plans to opt-in with Mavericks for next season


Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t seem to age — his scoring numbers are up this season from 17.3 to 18.8 points per game, his true shooting percentage increased, he’s seemingly reversed the downward trends in his game. And he’s got the Mavericks on the cusp of making the playoffs (although the loss of Chandler Parsons for the rest of the season is a major blow).

The future Hall of Famer has one year left on his “I’ll take a deal to help the team” contract, worth $8.7 million next season, and he’s going to take it. Here’re his comments, via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

The Mavericks did not go into rebuild mode last summer, although if DeAndre Jordan had told them no from the start that may have been different, Mark Cuban has suggested.

You know Cuban and company will go big game hunting come free agency, but that’s a limited talent pool this season and virtually every team has money. Expect if they strike out for the Mavs to add some more solid pieces and improve the team’s overall quality for what could be Nowitzki’s final season (age 38, in the last year of his deal).