Rockets Topple Pelicans, 122-116
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — As usual, scoring comes in concentrated bursts for James Harden.
Harden scored 19 of his 39 points in the fourth quarter and the Houston Rockets beat the short-handed New Orleans Pelicans 122-116 Monday night.
The NBA’s leading scorer has averaged 40.6 points in his last eight games, but missed nine of his first 10 3-point shots. Still, with Houston leading by four midway through the fourth quarter, Harden lit his personal fuse and scored 13 consecutive points in a 1:57 span to push the advantage to 110-93.
“I wasn’t really getting to the rim,” Harden said. “The first three quarters I was settling and kind of just being passive. So, I just wanted to be more aggressive, whether it was shooting my shot or getting to the basket.”
Russell Westbrook had 26 points and Clint Capela added 11 points and 20 rebounds to help the Rockets to their fourth straight win.
JJ Redick had 24 points, Josh Hart scored 19, and Jrue Holiday added 18 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds for New Orleans, which played without leading-scorer Brandon Ingram due to a sore right knee.
The Pelicans could not overcome 12 first-half turnovers – six by Holiday in the first half alone – and 29% shooting from 3-point range in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve just got to start valuing the basketball and we’ve got to stop making the bad turnover,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “You shoot 45 threes – you’ve got to make more than 14 of them.”
DETROIT (AP) — The Minnesota Timberwolves shot an abysmal 6 of 45 from 3-point range in a loss to Denver over the weekend.
That evened out in a hurry against Detroit.
Andrew Wiggins scored 33 points, and Minnesota spoiled Blake Griffin’s return, beating the Pistons. The Timberwolves shot 8 of 10 from beyond the arc in the first quarter to take a 15-point lead, and they held Detroit at bay after that.
“We talked this morning — how we made sure there weren’t any lids on the basket,” Minnesota coach Ryan Saunders said. “They deserve a win like this on a back-to-back.”
Griffin played for the first time this season, coming back from hamstring and knee issues. Derrick Rose also returned to the Detroit lineup from a strained hamstring, but both he and Griffin played limited minutes.
Griffin scored 19 points but Rose added just six.
“We’ve just got to ask the question: Do we want to win — are we going to come out and play hard, or going to get spanked like this every night?” Rose said. “We need everybody to be on the same page. We need everybody to move in a collective group. We’ve got to figure it out.”
Karl-Anthony Towns scored 25 points for Minnesota, which snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Pistons.
BOSTON (AP) — Kemba Walker took on some extra responsibility at the offensive end in Boston’s first game since Gordon Hayward broke his left hand.
Walker made a trio of key 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and finished with 29 points, Jaylen Brown added 25 points and 11 rebounds, and the Celtics beat the Dallas Mavericks.
“I was just trying to be aggressive, trying to make the right plays,” Walker said. “My shot felt good the whole night. I was just missing them. Then, in the fourth quarter, just naturally, the competitive nature just comes out and I try to do what I can do to put the ball in the basket.”
Marcus Smart scored 17 points, Daniel Theis chipped in with 11 and Brad Wanamaker had 10 for Boston, which won its eighth straight game since a season-opening loss at Philadelphia.
Jayson Tatum shot 1 for 18 from the field and scored only five points for the Celtics.
Luka Doncic led the Mavericks (6-4) with 34 points, nine assists and six rebounds. Maxi Kleber had 15 points with eight boards.
GRIZZLIES 113 SPURS 109
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Jaren Jackson Jr.’s inconsistency has mirrored that of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Jackson put together his best all-around performance Monday night and it resulted in Memphis’ most satisfying victory and first road win of the season.
Jackson had 24 points and the Grizzlies put a damper on Tony Parker’s jersey retirement by beating the San Antonio Spurs.
After averaging 44 points and committing 14 fouls in his previous four games, Jackson had six rebounds, five assists, one block and just two personal fouls in 38 minutes against the Spurs.
“He’s getting comfortable, his confidence is back,” Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant said. “He’s just playing with that bop, not thinking too much. We’re going to tell him to just hoop.”
Jackson was involved in two pivotal plays with the Grizzlies up 111-109 in the final minute. His 3-pointer with 25.5 seconds was overturned when replays determined the Grizzlies forward was out of bounds. Jackson then blocked DeMar DeRozan’s ensuing drive to maintain Memphis’ two-point advantage.
Memphis won a coach’s challenge that overturned a foul that would have put DeRozan on the line with San Antonio trailing 113-109.
Dillon Brooks had 21 points and Jonas Valanciunas added 18 points and 12 rebounds for Memphis, which had lost two straight and five of six.
“I’m proud of them,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. “We’ve tried to address the last couple of days that’s not our standard. How we’ve got to compete the right way, play together the right way and this is what we’re capable of.”
San Antonio needed a fevered comeback to overcome another sluggish performance on the heels of a 135-115 loss to the Boston Celtics on Saturday.
It was a strange performance given the circumstances.
Parker’s uniform was lifted to the rafters alongside fellow Big Three members Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili following the game. That group led San Antonio to four of its five championships and have the most wins (541) of any trio in league history.
That success seems like a distant memory as the Spurs (5-5) suffered their second straight loss and fourth defeat in five games.
The sold-out crowd came in buzzing, but the Spurs didn’t give them much to cheer for. San Antonio shot 33 percent in falling behind 35-22 in the first quarter.
“We’ve got to show some type of urgency, understanding,” DeRozan said. “We can’t wait until late in the game to try to make something happen, try to make a defensive play. We’ve got to be consistent from the beginning of the game.”
LaMarcus Aldridge had 19 points, Rudy Gay added 18 and DeRozan had 12 for San Antonio.
Memphis took advantage, attacking the basket continually in building a 16-point lead in the first half behind 22 points in the paint and 51% shooting.