James Harden scores 42, rallies Rockets past Bulls 121-117 in OT (VIDEO)

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HOUSTON (AP) James Harden had 42 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists to rally the Houston Rockets past the Chicago Bulls 121-117 in overtime Friday night.

Harden hit a step-back jumper over Paul Zipser with 36.1 seconds remaining in the extra period and was fouled. He made the free throw to give the Rockets a two-point lead they never relinquished.

After losing to Atlanta on Thursday night, the Rockets improved to 12-1 this season in the second of back-to-back games.

The Bulls played without star forward Jimmy Butler, who was nursing a bruised heel. Starting in his place, Michael Carter-Williams had 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists before fouling out with two minutes remaining in overtime.

Harden hit a step-back jumper over Carter-Williams to tie the game at 108 with 27.3 seconds remaining in regulation.

On the next possession, Dwyane Wade lost his dribble when guarded by Trevor Ariza, leading to a shot-clock violation with 3.3 seconds to go. Harden tried the same move against Carter-Williams at the buzzer, but his shot fell short.

Chicago dominated the Rockets’ interior defense, outscoring Houston 60-46 in the paint. Taj Gibson scored 20 points for the Bulls, and Wade had 19 points, nine rebounds and six assists.

The Rockets built a lead that reached 17 midway through the second quarter as they opened the period on a 26-7 run, all with Harden on the bench. Chicago cut Houston’s lead to 60-49 at halftime.

The Bulls started the third quarter on a run of their own, outscoring the Rockets 24-12 out of the extended halftime break and entered the fourth quarter with a two-point lead.

In a special halftime ceremony, the Rockets retired Yao Ming’s No. 11 jersey with a dedication that featured Yao’s family, former teammates, fellow Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutombo as well as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

TIP-INS

Bulls: In the fourth quarter, Zipser was elbowed in the face by Harden on a rebound and called for a foul. After a review, Harden also received a technical foul. . Zipser, Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic all scored in double figures off the bench.

Rockets: Harden scored his 10,000th point with the Rockets late in the second quarter. He passed Yao for sixth place in franchise history. Harden scored 2,795 points in his first three seasons with Oklahoma City. . Ryan Anderson‘s shooting woes continued as he went 0 for 7 from the field, including 0 for 6 from 3-point range. He also missed both his free throw attempts.

UP NEXT

Bulls: Visit the Sacramento Kings on Monday night, the third stop on a six-game road trip.

Rockets: Host the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night, the first of six straight games against teams with losing records.

Somehow, Ja Morant highlights keep getting better (video)

Ja Morant
Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images
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Ja Morant is special.

He has already produced a few amazing plays during his rookie year. He has even taken over full games with his flashy play.

But the performance he put on during the Grizzlies’ win over the Cavaliers last night was something else.

Thrice, Morant elevated for show-stopping dunks. He scored only once. But each time, something incredible happened.

First, Morant way up to catch a lob from Jae Crowder, adjusted mid-air and found Jaren Jackson Jr. for a dunk:

Then, less than a minute later, Morant finished a lob from Crowder with a beautiful one-handed slam:

Finally, Morant leaped to posterize Larry Nance Jr., realized that wouldn’t work then threw a spinning behind-the-back pass to Jackson. Though Alfonzo McKinnie blocked Jackson, Morant’s move was dazzling:

If Morant is going to keep putting on shows like this during games, maybe we can forgive him for skipping the dunk contest.

Trae Young gets ankles absolutely destroyed by Dejounte Murray (video)

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The Hawks got Trae Young his desired help, trading for Jeff Teague.

Maybe Young will do his part and step up on defense.

That didn’t happen on this possession against Spurs guard Dejounte Murry.

At least Young continued his breakout season on the other end, scoring 31 points and dishing nine assists in Atlanta’s rare victory in San Antonio.

Tristan Thompson slaps Jae Crowder’s rear end, gets ejected (video)

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What is it about Cleveland athletes slapping butts and getting in trouble?

Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. faces a simple battery charge for slapping a police officer’s backside in LSU’s locker room after the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Last night, Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson got ejected for slapping Grizzlies forward Jae Crowder‘s behind.

Thompson and Crowder got double technical fouls earlier in the game. So, Thompson got ejected with a tech for this incident between free throws.

Though the two are former Cleveland teammates, Crowder didn’t look amused. Crowder doesn’t play.

The Cavs rallied without Thompson, but Memphis won, 113-109.

Kyle Lowry flings in wild 3-pointer (video)

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Kyle Lowry had the ball in his left hand when he felt contact. Not only did he try to sell a foul by flailing his arms, the right-hander tried to draw a shooting foul by hurling an off-balance 31-footer toward the basket.

No continuation. No whistle at all.

But Lowry made the shot, anyway.

Lowry and the Raptors will take it, but they didn’t need a break like that against the Wizards’ dismal defense last night. Toronto won, 140-111.