Harden scores 42 but Rockets fall to Bucks, Kuzma leads LeBron-less Lakers

By Sports Desk January 10, 2019

The Milwaukee Bucks managed to overcome a big performance from James Harden to top the Houston Rockets 116-109 in the NBA. 

MVP contender Harden posted 42 points but the Rockets still fell to the Bucks on Wednesday – snapping their 10-game home winning streak.

Harden also notched 11 rebounds, giving him a double-double midweek. Rockets team-mate Clint Capela chipped in 18 points and 13 rebounds, but Milwaukee's balanced offense was too overwhelming.

Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded 27 points and 21 rebounds for the Bucks. Malcolm Brogdon contributed 24 points on an efficient nine-of-12 shooting.

The Bucks (29-11) sit atop the Eastern Conference, while the Rockets dropped to 23-17, leaving them sixth in the west.


Another Davis double-double lifts Pelicans

Anthony Davis put up 38 points and 13 rebounds as the New Orleans Pelicans outlasted the Cleveland Cavaliers 140-124.

John Collins scored 30 points and grabbed 18 boards for the Atlanta Hawks, who lost 116-100 to the Brooklyn Nets.

Joel Embiid had 35 points and 14 rebounds as the Philadelphia 76ers went down 123-106 at the Washington Wizards.

Luka Doncic made four three-pointers on his way to a 30-point performance in the Dallas Mavericks' 104-94 victory against the Phoenix Suns.

Kyle Kuzma scored a career-high 41 points to lead the Los Angeles Lakers – who were without injured superstar LeBron James – to a 113-100 win over the Detroit Pistons.


Grizzlies roar but Conley struggles

Mike Conley scored 14 points on six-of-19 shooting as the Memphis Grizzlies beat the San Antonio Spurs 96-86. He missed all six of his three-point attempts.

Evan Fournier scored one point on 0-of-eight shooting in the Orlando Magic's 106-93 defeat to the Utah Jazz.


Davis says no… twice!

Davis protected the paint against the Cavaliers.

Ben Simmons used a deceptive ball fake to provide Embiid with an easy dunk under the basket.


Wednesday's results

Washington Wizards 123-106 Philadelphia 76ers
Boston Celtics 135-108 Indiana Pacers
Brooklyn Nets 116-100 Atlanta Hawks
Milwaukee Bucks 116-109 Houston Rockets
New Orleans Pelicans 140-124 Cleveland Cavaliers
Memphis Grizzlies 96-86 San Antonio Spurs
Dallas Mavericks 104-94 Phoenix Suns
Utah Jazz 106-93 Orlando Magic
Portland Trail Blazers 124-112 Chicago Bulls
Los Angeles Lakers 113-100 Detroit Pistons


Nuggets at Clippers

The Denver Nuggets hold the best record in the Western Conference heading into Thursday's clash, while the Los Angeles Clippers sit fourth in the west and are riding a three-game winning streak. This will be an intriguing matchup between two of the conference's top teams. 

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    Rondo has missed several weeks with a finger injury but the veteran guard is nearing a return, the Lakers announced on Friday.

    Lakers star Rondo had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right hand three days after suffering the injury against the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day, marking his second surgery on that hand in 2018.

    Rondo's first surgery was on November 15 and he returned December 21 to play only three games before suffering his finger injury. 

    The 32-year-old, who is in his first season with the Lakers, is averaging 8.4 points and 6.7 assists in 14 games this season, while shooting 45 per cent from the field and 35.7 per cent from three-point range.

    Los Angeles also are without superstar LeBron James, who strained his groin in the same game against the Warriors and is considered “day to day."

    James was cleared to practice next week, though his agent Rich Paul said the 34-year-old will not rush his return on the court. 

    Los Angeles are 25-21 entering Saturday's game against the Houston Rockets (25-19).

  • Ref admits error in key foul call on Lonzo Ball in Lakers-Thunder game Ref admits error in key foul call on Lonzo Ball in Lakers-Thunder game

    NBA referee Tom Washington conceded officials were wrong to award the Oklahoma City Thunder three free throws following Lonzo Ball's late foul after LeBron James had criticised the initial decision.

    With his team winning 122-119 with less than five seconds to play, Lakers guard Ball reached in and fouled Thunder star Russell Westbrook. 

    The referees ruled Westbrook was in the shooting motion, which gave him three free throws.

    Westbrook made all three shots, sending the game to overtime, with the Lakers going on to win the game 138-128.

    However, Washington explained afterwards that the call on Ball was wrong.

    "The official called the foul because at the time he thought Russell had started his shooting motion and he was clearly behind the three-point line and there was illegal contact by Ball," he explained.

    "There is not a trigger to review whether or not there is a foul prior to or on the shot.

    "The trigger would be whether or not it is a three-point shot or not. And upon being able to see the review of the play, we realised that the illegal contact actually happened prior to his upward motion, so it should have been a side-out."

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  • How James Harden's 2018-19 numbers compare to his MVP campaign How James Harden's 2018-19 numbers compare to his MVP campaign

    His 2017-18 campaign may have been impressive, but reigning MVP James Harden is having a career year in 2018-19.

    The Houston guard has been in incredible form for the 25-19 Rockets, scoring 30-plus points in an NBA-record 18 successive games and putting up a staggering 115 points in his last two appearances alone.

    Harden led the league in scoring, three-pointers and 50-point games in a Houston team that won more regular-season matches than anyone in 2017-18, but the individual contribution of 'The Beard' has been even greater this term.

    Here, we look at the numbers behind the man seemingly on course to win back-to-back MVP awards.


    A plethora of points

    Last season, through 41 matches, Harden was averaging 30.9 points per appearance. At the same point in this campaign, his average is up to 35.4.

    No one had as many 50-point games as Harden's four last year, and he has already reached that haul this term thanks to his recent displays against the Memphis Grizzlies and Brooklyn Nets.

    The 29-year-old has also scored at least 40 points on 15 occasions, compared to 11 at the equivalent stage in 2017-18.


    Assists, rebounds and efficiency

    With six triple-doubles, Harden already has more than he did throughout his entire MVP campaign (four), with an average of 6.3 rebounds per fixture this time around compared to 4.9 boards last season.

    And while he is undoubtedly the focal point of the Houston offense, Harden is in the league's top five for assists, though his average is down from 9.0 to 8.5 per game.

    His field-goal percentage has dropped marginally from 44.3 to 43.8 and he is proving slightly less effective beyond the arc - 38.7 per cent in 2017-18 to 37.5 per cent in 2018-19.


    The Chris Paul effect

    Harden's statistical explosion has happened when the Rockets have been without Chris Paul, who picked up a hamstring injury prior to Christmas.

    In the last 13 contests without Paul, Harden has poured in a whopping 43.2 points per game, compared to 31.8 prior to his team-mate's injury, and he has failed to score fewer than 40 only four times.

    Harden has averaged 16.9 shots from beyond the arc - sinking 6.2 per game - having averaged only 11.1 attempts before Paul went down.

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