James Harden fires up Rockets once more

Houston Rockets v Washington Wizards

James Harden poured in 32 points and handed out 14 assists as the Houston Rockets brought an end to the Denver Nuggets’ five-game winning streak.

Harden’s double-double, combined with 31 points and nine rebounds from teammate Clint Capela, helped the Rockets to a 125-113 victory at Toyota Center.

Denver, for whom Nikola Jokic scored 24 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, still set the pace in the Western Conference, but many of the teams looking to hunt them down took full advantage of their defeat.

While none of Golden State, Oklahoma City or the LA Clippers were in action on Monday, the five teams now immediately behind the top four – Houston, San Antonio, Portland, LA Lakers and Sacramento – were all victorious.

The Spurs trailed by six points after the first quarter against the Detroit Pistons, but rallied to win the second 34-20 and never looked back as they extended their winning run to five with a 119-107 triumph.

At the Moda Center, Jusuf Nurkic led six Portland players in double-digit scoring as the Trail Blazers edged out the New York Knicks 111-101, while the Lakers recovered from a 13-point half-time deficit to beat the Dallas Mavericks 107-97.

Sacramento, meanwhile, downed the Orlando Magic 111-95 to climb up to ninth spot above the Utah Jazz, who were beaten 114-102 by new Eastern Conference leaders the Milwaukee Bucks.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Houston Rockets

Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with a double-double of 30 points and 10 rebounds as the Bucks – who suffered their first defeat in six games against Toronto at the weekend – eased away in the final quarter to replace the non-playing Raptors on top of the standings.

Also, the Boston Celtics defeated the Brooklyn Nets 116-95, while the New Orleans Pelicans inflicted a sixth successive defeat on Memphis, beating the Grizzlies 114-95.

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