Houston: The Houston Rockets got another huge offensive game from James Harden. But it was the team's defense against the Indiana Pacers that the Rockets thought was the most impressive part of their win.
Harden scored 44 points and the Rockets used a big fourth quarter run to pull away and get the 111-102 victory on Friday night.
Houston has won a season-high six games in a row and Harden has scored 36 points or more in five straight games to carry the Rockets as they deal with injuries to Clint Capela, Eric Gordon and Danuel House.
Indiana led by 4 on a 3-pointer by Doug McDermott before Houston used a 14-0 spurt to make it 94-88 with about five minutes left. Harden took over in that stretch, scoring the last 12 points and making two 3-pointers. The Pacers couldn't do anything offensively as Houston built its lead and missed seven shots and had two turnovers.
Harden was asked how big the team's defense in that stretch was to the win.
"It was huge," Harden said. "That's the game right there."
Indiana got its first point in almost five minutes when Domantas Sabonis made the second of two free throws with less than five minutes to go and Justin Holiday made a layup about a minute later.
But Russell Westbrook hit a 3-pointer seconds after that to push the Rockets' lead to 10 with three minutes remaining.
Though the defense has improved during this winning streak, Westbrook still sees room for improvement.
"We're moving in the right direction," he said. "We're doing a good job of staying locked in for the most part ... and it's showing."
The Pacers cut it to six points with a 3 by Aaron Holiday with about a minute left, but Tyson Chandler added a tip-in layup to secure the victory.
Sabonis had 18 points and 13 rebounds and McDermott added 18 points off the bench as Indiana had its four-game winning streak snapped.
Ben McLemore had a season-high 21 points and Westbrook scored 17 with eight rebounds and six assists.
"He hit some timely 3s," coach Mike D'Antoni said of McLemore. "His defense is always pretty good. He runs the floor. He plays really hard and he can shoot. So yeah " he was good."
A dunk by Justin Holiday got the Pacers within four points midway through the third quarter before Houston used an 8-2 run to make it 75-65 with about four minutes left in the quarter. McLemore led the way in that stretch with two 3-pointers.
The Pacers got going after that, scoring the next 10 points to tie it with about a minute left in the third. Houston missed five shots and had a turnover to allow Indiana to close the gap.
James Harden has 464 PTS and 95 AST through 12 games this season. Harden matched both of those totals over several 12-game spans in the 2018"19 season. The only other NBA player ever to do that over any 12-game span is Nate Archibald in 1973 (467 PTS, 138 AST). @EliasSports pic.twitter.com/hPvSNDVKEN
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Austin Rivers ended a scoring drought of more than three minutes by Houston after that, but Indiana scored the next four points to take a 79-77 lead.
Houston entered the fourth quarter up by 1 after P.J. Tucker hit a 3-pointer at the end of the third.
The Pacers, who were already without Myles Turner and Jeremy Lamb because of injuries, played most of Friday's game without Malcolm Brogdon after he left in the first quarter with a sore lower back.
"That's a big loss when you're going up against guys like Harden and Westbrook," coach Nate McMillan said. "Not only do you need him offensively but you need his size defensively."
LAKERS 99, KINGS 97
LeBron James hit two free throws with 5.5 seconds to play, and Anthony Davis blocked Harrison Barnes' driving shot at the buzzer with both hands in Los Angeles' 10th win in 11 games, over former coach Luke Walton and Sacramento.
James had 29 points and 11 assists, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 12 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter of the Western Conference-leading Lakers' third straight win.
Davis scored 17 points and Alex Caruso scored a season-high 10 points for the Lakers.
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Buddy Hield had 21 points and eight rebounds, and Bogdan Bogdanovic added 18 points for the Kings in the L.A. return of Walton, who was fired by the Lakers last April after presiding over three consecutive losing seasons.
CELTICS 105, WARRIORS 100
Jayson Tatum dunked after a jump ball with 1:36 left to put Boston ahead, and the Celtics held off the undermanned Golden State for their 10th straight win since losing the season opener.
D'Angelo Russell had 12 points and seven assists but also nine of his team's 19 turnovers before leaving with a sprained right thumb in the Warriors' sixth straight defeat. Alec Burks scored 20 points off the bench, making 11 of 12 free throws.
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Jaylen Brown had 22 points and eight rebounds, and Tatum overcame a slow start to score 24 points for the Celtics, who lost Oct. 23 at Philadelphia to start the season before beginning its longest winning streak since 2017.
HORNETS 109, PISTONS 106
Malik Monk hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift Charlotte past Detroit.
After Detroit's Derrick Rose drove the lane and awkwardly threw the ball away with a second left, Charlotte got it at midcourt. Following a timeout, the Hornets threw several screens, with Monk flying around one near the top of the key. He caught a pass from Cody Martin and launched the winner.
Monk finished with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting to help the Hornets snap a four-game losing streak. Terry Rozier added 19 points, and Devonte Graham had 18 points and 10 assists.
Langston Galloway had a career-high 32 points on seven 3-pointers for Detroit. Andre Drummond added 16 points and 20 rebounds, and Blake Griffin had 19 points after missing three games with left hamstring and posterior knee soreness.
The Pistons have lost four straight.
THUNDER 127, 76ERS 119, OT
Danilo Gallinari scored 28 points to help Oklahoma City outlast Philadelphia in overtime.
Chris Paul had 27 points for the Thunder, who had dropped three of four. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 24 points, and Terrance Ferguson finished with 19.
It was the biggest win of the season for a Thunder franchise that lost All-Stars Russell Westbrook and Paul George in offseason trades. The crowd roared in the fourth quarter and overtime and made it seem, for a night, like nothing had changed.
Joel Embiid had 31 points and 12 rebounds, and Josh Richardson added 28 points for the 76ers.
WIZARDS 137, TIMBERWOLVES 116
Bradley Beal scored 44 points for the second straight game and Washington snapped a three-game losing streak with the victory over short-handed Minnesota.
Moritz Wagner came off the bench for Washington to add 30 points and 15 rebounds " both career highs. Wagner also drew three charges to help spark the Wizards' defense in the first half.
Karl-Anthony Towns, celebrating his 24th birthday, led the Timberwolves with 36 points. Minnesota was without scoring leader Andrew Wiggins because of personal reasons.
GRIZZLIES 107, JAZZ 106
Ja Morant scored 25 points, including the go-ahead basket with 1:32 remaining, Dillon Brooks added 20 points and Memphis beat Utah, spoiling the return of former Grizzlies guard Mike Conley.
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Morant's inside basket gave Memphis a 107-105 lead. Utah's Rudy Gobert split a pair of free throws with 53 seconds left and both teams missed shots down the stretch.
Utah had one last chance when the ball was inbounded to Donovan Mitchell with two seconds left. But as Mitchell turned, Solomon Hill stripped the ball away, giving Memphis its third straight win.
The game marked the return of Conley, the long-time Memphis guard who spent his entire career with the Grizzlies until a trade to Utah over the summer. While there was plenty of admiration from his former fan base, Conley struggled, scoring 15 points on 5-for-19 shooting from the field.
Mitchell led the Jazz with 29 points and nine rebounds. Gobert had 23 points and 17 rebounds, while Bojan Bogdanovic added 20 points.
MAGIC 111, SPURS 109
Evan Fournier scored 26 points, hitting two late 3-pointers, and Orlando handed San Antonio its fourth straight loss.
Terrence Ross had 10 of his season-high 20 points in the fourth quarter. DeMar DeRozan scored 21 points for the Spurs.