Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon lead Rockets past Kings, 105-83 (VIDEO)

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HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Rockets could not have been happier to be home.

After a 2-3 trip and 10 of their last 14 games on the road, the Rockets were revved up again back at Toyota Center.

Ryan Anderson had 25 points and 11 rebounds, Eric Gordon added 17 points and Houston used a big second-quarter run to beat the Sacramento Kings 105-83 on Tuesday night.

“It just felt good to be back at home,” James Harden said. “It felt like we were on the road for so long, that we are home, we are comfortable. We got to sleep in our own bed. Tonight, we came out and played hard. We had energy at the beginning of the game and carried that through all four quarters.”

Anderson shot 6 of 12 from 3-point range and Houston went 14 of 45 from behind the arc as a team.

Harden, who banged knees early in the first quarter, finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. He said he would be ready to go Thursday against Atlanta.

Clint Capella had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Rockets.

“We have a lot of weapons on our team,” forward Trevor Ariza said. “On any given night, anyone can step up and be our leading scorer. Tonight with Ryan he shot the ball extremely well like we know he can. We just rode that.”

Houston used an 18-3 run over the first nine minutes of the second quarter to extend its lead to 47-27 on Nene’s dunk. Gordon had eight points in the run, and Nene added six.

The Kings shot 3 for 16 from the field, committed six turnovers and were outscored 25-11 in the second quarter as Houston opened up a 54-35 halftime lead.

“They defensively played real well,” coach Mike D’Antoni said of his Rockets. “Now, we played good the first quarter, but that second quarter was excellent, and that kind of set the tone.”

DeMarcus Cousins had 16 points and seven rebounds for the Kings, who shot 35 percent. Kosta Koufos added 12 points.

“We ran out of gas there in the last game against (Philadelphia), but I thought we really ran out of legs tonight,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “We didn’t shoot it well; they are obviously very offensively potent.”

Sacramento got no closer than 19 in the second half.

TIP-INS

Kings: Garrett Temple exited with 9:29 left in the third quarter with an apparent left hamstring injury. Temple fell to the ground and immediately grabbed his left hamstring after a steal. He limped off the court and straight to the locker room. Temple said he is going to have an MRI to see the severity of the injury. He finished with three points. … Willie Cauley-Stein had 10 points and six rebounds.

Rockets: Nene finished with 11 points. …The Rockets outrebounded Sacramento 60-45. … Houston wore its Lunar New Year uniforms Tuesday for the first time this season.

EIGHT IS ENOUGH

Sacramento finished its eight-game road trip 3-5 after losing its third out of the last four games. The trip featured three back-to-backs in which the Kings went 1-2 in the second game, including Tuesday’s loss. The road trip included an awkward Philadelphia to Houston back-to-back after the game against the 76ers, originally scheduled for Nov. 29, was rescheduled for Monday due to wet floor conditions.

“I think we progressed as a team,” Cousins said. “It’s been a tough road trip with a lot of unfortunate things happened. A lot of things didn’t go our way, but through it, I think we got better as a team.”

HALL OF FAMERS IN THE HOUSE

Houston honored Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo during the second quarter of Tuesday’s game as part of the team’s 50th season celebration. Mutombo played parts of five seasons with Houston at the end of his career. Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon was also at the game, sitting courtside next to Mutombo.

UP NEXT

Kings: Return home to start a six-game homestand against Phoenix on Friday.

Rockets: Will continue their four-game homestand and welcome former Rockets center Dwight Howard on Thursday when they host Atlanta.

Lakers’ recruiting pitch for Paul George leaks

AP Photo/R Brent Smith
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LeBron James doesn’t want elaborate pitches in free agency.

Paul George never said that, though.

So, the Lakers are apparently planning to put some showbiz into their recruitment.

Robin Lundberg of Sports Illustrated, citing a “Hollywood source,” revealed a Lakers pitch for George. The direction:

Less Morgan Freeman/Denzel Washington, and more Jamie Foxx. A bit more edge an attitude to their voice, and a bit less aspirational

The text:

When you were just a kid

In your room
Dreaming from Palmdale

We were dreaming too.

While you dreamt, we built – built for your arrival

And while we dreamt, you built too
Becoming one of the world’s greatest.

Life’s most powerful dream are the one we realize ourselves.

The ones that turn us into legends.
That kid from Palmdale always knew it
Now the world will, too

Who wrote this, noted storyteller Kobe Bryant?

My bigger question: Did or did not the Lakers, who’ve gone to great lengths to make their interest in George known, want this to leak before the official start of free agency?

Report: No divide between Chris Paul and Rockets over contract

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That rumor of tension between Chris Paul and the Rockets over his contract?

Sam Amick of USA Today:

As for the recent report from Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard that there are rising tensions between the two sides because Paul wants the full max and isn’t sure if he’ll get it, two people with knowledge of the situation refuted the idea there is any friction between the sides.

Remember, everyone who leaks something has an agenda. But I find this report far more credible than the initial rumor.

Paul’s max projects to be about $205 million over five years. That’s a lot to commit to a 33-year-old, but Paul took a discount to facilitate an opt-in-and-trade to Houston last year. He expects to be made whole.

Until Broussard’s report, all indications were the Rockets would appease him. Barring more information, that should remain the expectation.

Report: LeBron James not planning to sit for elaborate pitch meetings in free agency

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LeBron James held court in Cleveland in 2010, listening to pitch after pitch as teams flew in to recruit the superstar during free agency. That approach became a model, and Kevin Durant followed it in the Hamptons in 2016.

But maybe once is enough.

Durant announced months ago he’d stay with the Warriors. And now LeBron – who could definitely leave Cleveland – is making clear he doesn’t want the hoopla, either.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

sources close to the situation tell ESPN that he has no intention of hearing elaborate pitch meetings from teams.

league sources believe he and his agents Rich Paul and Mark Termini have enough understanding of the stakes and NBA landscape to handle the process without much fanfare.

LeBron is still haunted by The Decision. He’s a great player and philanthropist and does plenty to connect with fans. Yet, people still dislike him purely because of how he changed teams eight years ago.

If I wielded as much power as LeBron, I’d want suitors wining and dining me. He wants to avoid more backlash.

This will probably look similar to 2014 – LeBron’s agents hearing out teams then LeBron meeting with only the most serious options, though the final announcement will likely come via Uninterrupted rather than Sports Illustrated.

The Lakers, Cavaliers, Rockets and 76ers are commonly viewed as the favorites for LeBron. This approach makes it less likely for a longshot to emerge – though, for what it’s worth, we don’t know those four teams are his favorites right now.

Report: Nuggets re-signing Nikola Jokic to five-year max after declining team option

AP Photo/Matt Slocum
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The Nuggets are building around Nikola Jokic.

But a second-round pick turning into a franchise player so quickly creates complications. Denver is resolving one by declining Jokic’s team option, which will send him into restricted free agency (as opposed to unrestricted free agency next year) and paying him.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

This ought to please Jokic. He would have earned just $1,600,520 next season if Denver exercised his team option.

Jokic is one of the best-passing full-time centers ever. He also shoots and rebounds well, though he must improve his defense to become worthy of this contract. At just 23, he’s worth betting on.

That said, I’m surprised the Nuggets didn’t get him on a slight discount. Though they clearly didn’t want to risk him testing unrestricted free agency next year, they gave him a MASSIVE raise (about $24 million) next season when they didn’t have to.

Jokic’s exact max salary won’t be determined until the salary cap and luxury-tax line are set this month. But this clearly puts Denver in cost-cutting mode now.

As constructed, the Nuggets are in line for about $24 million in luxury-tax payments. That’s without considering Will Barton, who’ll be an unrestricted free agent. Expect Denver to look to unload Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur, Wilson Chandler and/or Mason Plumlee.

Jokic was always going to be in Denver next season. The Nuggets have now secured him far longer. It will cost them next year – an important season to them – but they also clearly value a future with Jokic.