Rockets 119, Raptors 109
No matter what, the Toronto Raptors were determined to double-team James Harden.
The rest of the Houston Rockets made sure that strategy didn’t pay off.
Russell Westbrook had 19 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, Harden shook off a slow start to score 23 and the Rockets beat the Raptors on Thursday night, snapping a three-game road losing streak.
Westbrook posted his second straight triple-double and fifth this season. He has six career triple-doubles against Toronto, more than any other opponent.
Westbrook shot 7 for 27, going 0 for 6 from 3-point range
Ben McLemore had a season-high 28 points, P.J. Tucker added 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Danual House Jr. scored 16 as Houston handed Toronto its second consecutive home loss after a franchise-record nine straight wins to begin the season.
Clint Capela led Houston with 13 rebounds.
With Harden drawing an extra defender every time he had the ball, his play-making skills were more important than points for once.
“James, to his credit, didn’t force anything,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He said, ‘OK, double me and my teammates will score tonight,' and they did it.”
Toronto guard Fred VanVleet said the Raptors have “definitely stretched the spectrum” with creative defensive schemes this season.
“This was one of those things that didn't go our way,” VanVleet said. “If we would have scored 11 more points, we'd be geniuses and the defense was the best thing in the world and we'd be Harden-stoppers.”
Harden shot 7 for 11, his fewest attempts of the season, and failed to finish as Houston’s leading scorer for the second time. The only other time was an opening-night loss to Milwaukee in which Harden shot 2 for 13 and scored a season-low 19 points.
“We’ve seen so many different defenses throughout the course of the year,” Harden said. “Tonight was our first time seeing this defense. Guys did an unbelievable job of moving their bodies and being ready to shoot.”
McLemore set a career high by making eight 3-pointers on 17 attempts. Tucker matched his season high with five made 3s. Houston finished 22 for 55 from long range.
“When you’re giving guys, NBA pros, open looks like that, it’s tough,” House said. “Especially the amount of time that we had, guys are going to shoot. They were just knocking them down all night.”
Harden landed hard after being elbowed in the head on his drive to end the third quarter. He was tended to by trainers before getting to his feet and slowly walking to the locker room but returned 2 1/2 minutes into the final period.
“He got an elbow off his temple,” D’Antoni said. “They checked for a concussion but obviously he was fine.”
Pascal Siakam scored 24 points, VanVleet had 20 and Kyle Lowry 19 as the Raptors lost back-to-back regular-season home games for the first time since losing to Oklahoma City and Charlotte last March 22 and 24.
Lowry shot 2 for 18 in Tuesday’s overtime loss to Miami, his first game after missing 11 because of a broken left thumb.
The five-time All-Star fared better against the Rockets, making five of eight attempts, including three of five from long range. He shot 6 for 6 at the free throw line and led his team with eight assists.
Back-to-back baskets by Serge Ibaka and Norman Powell brought Toronto to 101-100 with 8:39 to play, but Harden and Tucker scored six points apiece as the Rockets pulled away with a 12-2 run over the next two minutes.
After following up his season-high 60-point performance in Saturday’s win over Atlanta with a 50-point effort in Tuesday’s overtime loss at San Antonio, Harden was held in check early by Toronto’s zone defense. Houston’s star guard didn’t attempt his first shot until a fast-break layup with 4:07 left in the first quarter. It was his only field goal attempt of the opening period.
House returned after missing two games because of illness and said he was still tired after playing almost 27 minutes.
“I’m weak,” he said. “I’m really fatigued. I can’t wait to get on the plane and go to sleep.”
76ers 119, Wizards 113
As well as the Philadelphia has been playing at home lately, it just can't consistently get its act together on the road, and a combined 15 turnovers by Joel Embiid.
The Sixers dropped to 5-7 away from Philadelphia — where they are 10-0 this season — despite 33 points from Tobias Harris, 26 points and a season-best 21 rebounds from Embiid, and 17 points and 10 assists from Simmons.
Facing one of the most lax defenses in the NBA, Embiid had eight turnovers and Simmons seven. The 76ers ended up with 21 in all, leading to 30 points for the Wizards, who had lost five of their past six games entering the night.
Bradley Beal had 26 points and 10 rebounds for Washington.
Rookie Rui Hachimura scored 27, while Davis Bertans scored 19 of his season-high 25 points in the second quarter.
Suns 139, Pelicans 132 (OT)
Devin Booker broke out of a perimeter-shooting slump, scoring 21 of his season-high 44 points in the third quarter, and Ricky Rubio powered Phoenix with four points and a critical assist in overtime in a victory over New Orleans.
Playing the back end of a back-to-back, Phoenix led by 18 points entering the fourth quarter, but the Pelicans fought back with five 3-pointers, two by the normally scatter-shooting Lonzo Ball, to tie it at 125. The Pelicans had a chance to win in regulation, but Brandon Ingram missed a 15-foot jumper from the right baseline as time expired.
In overtime, Ingram’s conventional three-point play tied it at 129, but Rubio hit a 12-footer and a scoop in the lane and then added a no-look assist to put the Suns up 135-129. Rubio finished with 15 assists.
New Orleans got to 135-132 on JJ Redick’s 3-pointer with 56.5 left, but Frank Kaminsky, who had six points in the overtime, iced it with two free throws. Kaminsky finished with 20 points, and Kelly Oubre had 14 points and 15 rebounds.
Booker was just 9 of 31 from long range in his previous five games, but he made 5 of 11 3-pointers, including all three of his attempts in 33-21 third quarter when the Suns built a 105-85 lead.
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