Houston superstar James Harden continued his historic streak Wednesday night by scoring a career-high and franchise-record 61 points, but it was Eric Gordon who drained the biggest shot, a 3-pointer with nine seconds left that gave the Rockets the lead for good in a wild 114-110 win over the host New York Knicks.
Harden has scored at least 30 points in 21 consecutive games, the fourth-longest such streak in NBA history (behind only three authored by Wilt Chamberlain). “Wilt the Stilt” scored 30 points in 25 straight games during the 1960-61 season, in 31 straight games spanning the 1961-62 and 1962-63 seasons and in 65 straight games during the 1961-62 season.
The 61 points are the most by a player in an NBA game this season — Kemba Walker scored 60 points for the Charlotte Hornets on Nov. 17 — and tied for the most scored by a Knicks opponent at Madison Square Garden. Kobe Bryant scored 61 points for the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 2, 2009.
There was little suspense regarding Harden’s streak Wednesday as he scored 19 points in the first quarter, finished the first half with 36 points and ended the third quarter with 49 points. He missed six consecutive shots before reaching 50 points with a jumper with 4:22 left.
Pacers 110, Raptors 106
Thaddeus Young scored 12 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and finished with 15 rebounds as Indiana held off a late rally to defeat visiting Toronto in a game that may prove very costly in the long run.
The Pacers lost guard Victor Oladipo with 4:05 left in the first half. He left on a stretcher with what the team termed a serious right knee injury, and he is headed for an MRI exam Thursday. Oladipo, Indiana’s leading scorer on the season, had four points, three rebounds and one assist.
Darren Collison added 17 points, and Bojan Bogdanovic had 16 points for the Pacers, who won their third game in a row. Serge Ibaka had 23 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Raptors, and Kyle Lowry added 20 points and seven assists,
76ers 122, Spurs 120
Joel Embiid scored 33 points and grabbed 19 rebounds to lift host Philadelphia past San Antonio.
Ben Simmons secured his eighth triple-double of the season with 21 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds as the Sixers won their second in a row.
DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs with 26 points while Patty Mills and Rudy Gay added 17 apiece. Marco Belinelli had 16.
Celtics 123, Cavaliers 103
Terry Rozier, starting in place of the injured Kyrie Irving, scored 22 of his 26 points in the first half to spark Boston to an easy win over visiting Cleveland.
Irving sat out with flu-like symptoms but was hardly missed. Rozier, who played high school basketball in Cleveland, was perfect in the first two periods, going 8-for-8, including connecting on a buzzer-beater from 31 feet to give Boston a 65-50 lead at halftime.
Boston has won 10 straight at home and five straight overall while Cleveland, the NBA’s worst team with just nine wins in 49 games, lost its fifth straight despite 19 points from former Celtic Ante Zizic.
Hornets 118, Grizzlies 107
Kemba Walker scored 22 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter, and visiting Charlotte added to Memphis’ misery.
Earlier Wednesday, Memphis ownership confirmed that veteran stars Mike Conley and Marc Gasol were on the trading block. Then came an afternoon fire in the Grizzlies’ locker room that forced everyone to evacuate the FedEx Forum and eventually caused the Grizzlies to change locker rooms.
Nonetheless, Conley finished with 31 points on 10-of-17 shooting while Gasol had a triple-double with 22 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists.
Pistons 98, Pelicans 94
Blake Griffin scored 37 points and visiting Detroit held off a rally by short-handed New Orleans.
Jrue Holiday led the Pelicans with 29 points, Jahlil Okafor had 17 points and 10 rebounds, Julius Randle had 13 points and 13 rebounds, and Nikola Mirotic added 11 points before a strained right calf sidelined him in the fourth quarter.
The Pelicans played their second consecutive game without All-Star forward Anthony Davis, who sprained his left index finger in a 128-112 loss at Portland last Friday. Coach Alvin Gentry estimated that Davis would miss one or two weeks, though he said before Wednesday’s game that it could be “as much as four weeks.”
Clippers 111, Heat 99
Tobias Harris continued his breakout season with a game-high 31 points to lead Los Angeles past host Miami.
It was Harris’ fifth 30-point outing this season, continuing an exceptionally consistent first season with the Clippers. He has averaged more than 20 points every month this season and also against the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. Counting Wednesday’s game, Harris is averaging 21.0 points this season, and he has 31 games with at least 20 points.
Miami was led by Hassan Whiteside’s double-double (22 points and 16 rebounds). Josh Richardson added 17 points, Tyler Johnson had 15 points and Dwyane Wade had 13 points for the Heat. Wade, though, was scoreless in the second half.
Hawks 121, Bulls 101
John Collins scored a career-high 35 points to pace visiting Atlanta to an easy win in Chicago, ending the Hawks’ two-game losing streak.
The second-year power forward was 14-for-16 from the floor and 4-for-4 on 3-point attempts. Collins added eight rebounds and two assists to help Atlanta end a five-game losing streak against Chicago.
The Bulls got 23 points from Zach LaVine, the 31st time he’s scored 20-plus points this season. Lauri Markkanen scored 22, the third time in four games he’s scored at least 20, and added six rebounds. Kris Dunn had 16 points.
Nets 114, Magic 110
D’Angelo Russell broke a late tie with a 15-footer and DeMarre Carroll added two key hoops down the stretch to lift host Brooklyn past Orlando.
The fourth period featured four lead changes and six ties, the last of which occurred when Jarrett Allen converted a layup with 4:02 to go, creating a 104-all deadlock. Russell gave the Nets a lead they never relinquished with his jumper with 3:37 to go.
Nikola Vucevic had a 21-point, game-high 14-rebound double-double for the Magic, who lost for the fourth time in five games.
Jazz 114, Nuggets 108
Donovan Mitchell matched his season high of six 3-pointers while scoring 35 points to lead host Utah to a win over Denver.
Ricky Rubio recorded 17 points for the Jazz, who won for the seventh time in their past eight games. Rudy Gobert had 15 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots, Jae Crowder also scored 15 points, and Joe Ingles had 14 points and eight assists for Utah.
Nikola Jokic registered 28 points and matched his career high of 21 rebounds, and Will Barton contributed 22 points and nine rebounds off the bench for the Nuggets, who lost for just the fourth time in their past 14 games. Gary Harris tallied 16 points, Trey Lyles added 12 and Monte Morris scored 10 for Denver, which dropped its eighth straight game in Salt Lake City.
—Field Level Media