Wed, Mar 14, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Harden propels Rockets to easy victory over Spurs

AP, HOUSTON, Texas

Luc Mbah a Moute of the Houston Rockets, right, goes to the basket against the San Antonio Spurs in their NBA game in Houston, Texas, on Monday.

Photo: AP

After the Houston Rockets easily downed the San Antonio Spurs, James Harden was asked about his team taking care of business against a team missing its top players.

The All-Star was quick to point out that despite already clinching a playoff berth, this team has many more goals ahead.

“We don’t have the luxury of just taking nights off,” Harden said. “We’re not where we want to be. We’re not that good yet. So we have to go out there and approach every single game, no matter who we’re playing, like it’s a playoff game. We’re 15 games away, so it’s time to take it serious.”

Harden on Monday scored 16 of his 28 points in the third quarter to allow the Rockets to build a huge lead and sail to a 109-93 victory.

The NBA’s leading scorer took a little while to get going a night after sitting out against Dallas with a sore left knee and had just 12 points at halftime.

Despite his slow start, the Rockets had a comfortable lead in the third and were still up by 13 after a basket by San Antonio’s Dejounte Murray with about eight minutes left in the quarter.

It was then that Harden took over, scoring the next eight points to start a 16-4 run that extended the lead to 82-57 with about three-and-a-half minutes left in the third and had Spurs coach Gregg Popovich calling for a timeout.

Harden had a three-pointer and made three free throws after being fouled on a three-point attempt to propel that spurt.

He did not return in the fourth quarter with the game in hand.

“We’ve played I don’t know how many games in about eight days or 10 days, but it’s a lot of games it seems like, and to have the legs to be able to do what they’re doing and put the game away is pretty good,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said.

The Spurs, who were without leading scorer LaMarcus Aldridge, got 14 points each from Bryn Forbes and Derrick White.

They lost for the fifth time in six games as they fight for a playoff spot.

“Everybody tries to be the best they can be by playoff time and that will be our goal, too,” Popovich said. “[We want] to be in the playoffs and to be as good as we can possibly be no matter what the circumstances are.”

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