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James Harden has 38 in Rockets’ 130-114 win over the Blazers

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — James Harden easily exposed Portland’s struggles on defense.

Harden had 38 points and 10 assists for his seventh consecutive double-double, and the Houston Rockets beat the Trail Blazers 130-114 on Sunday night. It was his 14th double-double this season.

His mentality?

“Make the right play, that’s all,” he said.

“As a point guard I’m going to see a lot of defenses, so I’ve just got to figure out what they’re doing and how to attack it and just go from there.”

Eric Gordon added 26 points including six 3-pointers for the Rockets, who have made at least 10 3-pointers in 16 straight games to match the NBA record set by the Warriors and Cavaliers last season. They finished the night with 17.

Gordon’s 3-pointer gave the Rockets a 104-95 lead with just over 10 minutes left in the game. Damian Lillard‘s 3-pointer and Mason Plumlee‘s reverse layup closed the gap to 104-100, but the Blazers couldn’t get closer and Trevor Ariza hit a 3 from the corner to put the Rockets up 111-100.

CJ McCollum scored 28 points and Lillard had 27 for the Blazers, who have lost six of their last eight games. Portland gave up 30 or more points to the Rockets in each quarter.

“They’re a difficult team to guard,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “I think James does a great job of playing the game and figuring out what needs to be done.”

The Rockets attempted an NBA-record 50 3-pointers and made 21 in a 117-104 victory at Sacramento on Friday night to open a five-game road trip. Harden had 23 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

First-year Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said he feels like the Rockets are finding a groove in his system.

“I think they’re getting more comfortable with how we’re doing things. They’re moving the ball a little better,” D’Antoni said. “We can still do better.”

The Blazers beat New Orleans 119-104 at home on Friday night after struggling on a 1-4 road trip. Portland is missing starting forward Al-Farouq Aminu, who has been sidelined for more than two weeks with a calf injury. Ed Davis started in his place against the Rockets.

Lillard and McCollum combined for 20 points as the teams finished the first quarter knotted at 35. The Rockets went on a 9-0 run late in the second and led 65-62 at the half, paced by Harden’s 21 points.

Ryan Anderson hit a 3-pointer that made it 83-75 for the Rockets, who led by as many as 10 points in the third quarter. The Blazers pressured, coming within 94-93 late after Lillard made a pair of free throws.

Harden finished with five 3-pointers.

“Right now we’re not getting it done on the defensive end,” Lillard said. “I think that’s what it comes down to. You look at the Cleveland game, we scored 120-something points and we lose. That’s a lot of points to score and not win the game. Tonight we had 114 and we lose. Obviously we’re capable of scoring, we’re going to put points on the board, but we’ve got to find a way to come up with more stops and be more consistent.”

TIP-INS

Rockets: Rookie Kyle Wiltjer has been traveling with the Rockets, although he hasn’t played. Wiltjer, who went undrafted out of Gonzaga, is a Portland native and played for Jesuit High School, helping the team to three straight Oregon state championships.

Trail Blazers: Through its first 19 games, Portland has made more than 200 3-pointers, more than any Blazers team in franchise history. The Blazers have 209 total.

SCORING IS NOT THE ISSUE

Portland has scored at least 100 points in 17 of 19 games this season.

GORDON’S GAME

Gordon was just one off his season high for points.

“I just got off to a great start,” he said. “I know when I get off to a great start everything comes easier and more comfortable We just played well as a team, we moved the ball and did everything we needed to do to win.”

 

Pacers send Clippers to first two-game skid, win 91-70 without Paul George

Associated Press
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Glenn Robinson III and Myles Turner provided the offense and the Indiana Pacers overwhelmed the Los Angeles Clippers with their defense.

Robinson and Turner each scored 17 points and the Pacers forced 20 turnovers in a 91-70 victory Sunday night over the Clippers, who have lost two in a row for the first time this season.

“We just tried to have active hands and be aggressive defensively,” said Jeff Teague, who had 13 points and two steals. “That’s a great team over there, great players that they have. We just did a good job of being active and causing a little havoc on defense.”

The Pacers have forced at least 20 turnovers seven times this season and this time it came while the Clippers tried to bounce back from a 108-97 loss in Detroit on Friday.

Blake Griffin had 16 points and nine rebounds, and Chris Paul added 13 points. The Clippers shot just 31.4 percent from the field, were 4 of 24 from 3-point range, and couldn’t get going offensively for the second straight game.

“It was all bad,” Paul said. “We shot bad, we defended bad. We have to sweep it under the rug. We have to fix it and stop the bleeding at some point.”

Al Jefferson and Rodney Stuckey created a spark off the bench for the Pacers. Jefferson finished with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Stuckey had 12 points to help Indiana win two straight for just the second time this season.

Indiana went on a 12-2 run at the start of the second half and took a 62-44 lead after Robinson’s 3-pointer with 6:48 left in the third quarter.

Monta Ellis made a 3-pointer at the start of the fourth quarter and Jefferson scored to put the Pacers ahead 79-58 with 10:49 to play.

With All-Star forward Paul George on the bench nursing a sore left ankle for the second straight game, Indiana got off to a slow start, but settled in on defense and forced the Clippers to turn it over 11 times in the first quarter.

After scoring a career-high 20 points against Brooklyn on Friday while replacing George, Robinson scored six points in the first quarter and had 10 by halftime in his fourth start this season.

TIP-INS

Clippers: Los Angeles scored less than 80 points for the first time with Doc River as coach. … The Clippers had six turnovers by the 5:04 mark in the first quarter and finished the game with 20.

Pacers: Turner had 12 rebounds and Robinson had six. … Thaddeus Young had 11 points and six rebounds. … Along with George, the Pacers were without guard C.J. Miles and forward Kevin Seraphin, who are out with left knee injuries.

3-POINTERS NOT FALLING

Paul entered Sunday’s game shooting a career-high 43.0 percent from 3-point range while averaging a career-best 2.2 3-pointers a game. Against the Pacers, he missed all six 3-point attempts and finished 2 of 11 from the field, though he was 7 of 7 from the free throw line.

ROUGH ROAD

While the Pacers have won eight games at home, the team has just a single win on the road this season. Now Indiana prepares to hit the road for five games out west. The only road win for the Pacers was a 115-111 overtime victory at Oklahoma City a week ago.

 

C.J. McCollum gets technical for throwing ball at referee

Associated Press
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Portland’s C.J. McCollum is lucky he didn’t get thrown out for this. He should have been.

In the second quarter, McCollum had the ball on the wing as the shot clock wound down so he was forced to jack up a shot, one Patrick Beverley closed out on and blocked. McCollum was frustrated, he thought he got fouled. In frustration, he fired the ball at the referee.

Most officials would have tossed McCollum for that. Instead, he just got a technical. But you can bet a fine is coming from the league.

Houston went on to win the game 130-114, which probably compounded McCollum’s frustration.

Kyrie Irving, LeBron James lead Cavaliers past 76ers

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Kyrie Irving had 19 of his season-high 39 points in the fourth quarter and LeBron James added a triple-double with 26 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 112-108 comeback victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.

Kevin Love chipped in 25 points and 11 rebounds to help the defending champions (13-2) improve to their fourth straight win.

Joel Embiid led seven players in double figures with 22 points for the 76ers, who have lost three straight. Embiid also had nine rebounds, four assists and three blocks.

The Cavaliers never led through the first three quarters, but Irving got hot early in the fourth to put Cleveland in front. He gave Cleveland its first lead on a layup 2:38 into the period and had 10 of the first 13 Cavaliers fourth-quarter points on a variety of jumpers and drives. His layup with 7:51 left gave Cleveland its biggest lead to that point, 90-86.

Love was limited to 28 minutes after receiving stitches for a cut over his right eye sustained early in the first quarter.

Cleveland trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half. The Cavaliers got as close as 72-70 on James Jones‘ 3-pointer with 3:53 left in the third quarter. But the 76ers scored nine of the next 10 points, capped by Dario Saric‘s 3-pointer that made it 81-71. James had four and Love two as the Cavaliers ran off the final six points of the quarter to enter the final period down 81-77.

The Cavs missed their first 14 shots, but Philadelphia couldn’t take full advantage and led just 10-2 before James’ driving layup with 6:50 left in the first quarter resulted in Cleveland’s first field goal.

James and Embiid got into a verbal altercation late in the first quarter. Richard Jefferson was whistled for a foul on Embiid’s drive, and James questioned the call. Embiid went toward James’ direction, but officials stepped between the players. The incident drew a rise in the crowd.

James provided a couple of first-half highlights, dunking with 6:03 left in the first quarter and then following a missed free throw with a dunk with 1:17 to go in the first half. He has three triple-doubles this season.

TIP-INS

Cavaliers: Smith went 0 for 11 from the field, including 0 for 7 from 3-point range. . Channing Frye (personal) was not with the team. Frye’s father died Thursday. . Cleveland beat Philadelphia 102-101 on Nov. 5. . The Cavaliers arrived in Philadelphia on Saturday night following their attendance at the Ohio State-Michigan football game. . James’ 3-pointer with 5:01 left in the second period was his 1,000th as a member of the Cavaliers. . Cleveland has made at least 10 3-pointers in every game this season.

76ers: Jerryd Bayless (left wrist) didn’t play. Bayless missed the first 13 games of the season with a left wrist injury. . Embiid didn’t play in Friday’s 105-89 loss to the Bulls and won’t play Monday night at Toronto, marking the sixth game he will miss this season as part of his rehab plan after sitting out the last two seasons with a foot injury.

 

Wizards’ Bradley Beal fined $15,000 for grabbing Evan Fournier by throat

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It all started Friday night because Washington’s Kelly Oubre went up for the dunk and Orlando’s Bismack Biyombo blocked it (and got called for the blocking foul). As they separated Oubre gave Biyombo a push, Biyombo pushed back, and then a lot of guys came together to defend their teammates.

In that scrum, Washington’s Bradley Beal grabbed Orlando’s Evan Fournier by the throat. It was more of a push-off/Heisman move, no punches were thrown. Doesn’t matter, that’s going to cost Beal $15,000, the league announced on Sunday.

Beal and Fournier each picked up technicals, which is an automatic $2,000 fine also.