Wed, Mar 13, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Rockets extend winning streak to nine games


Kenneth Faried of the Houston Rockets, right, dunks against the Charlotte Hornets in their NBA game at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, on Monday.

Photo: Troy Taormina-USA Today

James Harden was forced to carry an almost impossible load on offense for big stretches of this season while many of the Houston Rockets were out with injuries. Now that the Rockets are at full strength, Harden is enjoying seeing his teammates shine on offense and helping Houston make a late push for the top spot in the Western Conference.

Harden on Monday scored 28 points and Eric Gordon added 22 as the Rockets cruised to their season-high ninth straight win, 118-106 over the Charlotte Hornets.

“It was a total team effort,” Harden said.

The Rockets, whose 11-14 start had them in the basement of the conference standings, now sit in third place, just three-and-a-half games behind the Warriors, who they meet next.

A night after Gordon ended a streak of 43 straight games where Harden led the team in scoring, the Beard was Houston’s top scorer again, but Gordon had another strong outing, making five three-pointers for the third straight game and the fourth in five games.

Harden, who leads the NBA with 36.2 points a game, was asked if it is a relief not to have to carry the offense every night now that stars such as Clint Capela and Chris Paul have returned from extended absences.

“Yeah,” he said. “I just take what the defense gives me. Making shots or missing shots, I’ll take the same shots every single game ... and I got off the ball and multiple guys got open shots. I don’t really try to press anything. I just try to take what they give me and be effective.”

The Rockets won despite a big performance by Kemba Walker, who finished with 40 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists as the Hornets lost their second straight game.

“For him to come in here and compete at this stage without a lot of his guys out there on the floor says a lot about his character, and who he is as a person and as a leader,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said.

Houston led by as many as 28 in the third quarter, but a big run by the Hornets cut the lead to 13 at the start of the fourth.

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni was a bit disappointed that his team let Charlotte get back in it after building such a huge lead.

“Maybe it’s a new reality and maybe players need to get used to that — that you can’t take your foot off the pedal,” D’Antoni said.

Walker was encouraged that the Hornets kept fighting, despite the early hole.

“I’m not a big fan of moral victories, but hopefully we can build off this, especially as far as our energy and our passion,” he said.

Also on Monday, it was:

‧ Thunder 98, Jazz 89

‧ Clippers 140, Celtics 115

‧ Nets 103, Pistons 75

‧ Cavaliers 126, Raptors 101

‧ Wizards 121, Kings 15

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