12

James Harden sets Rockets record with 36 first-half points

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni worried Monday that James Harden was “dog tired” and would have to carry an even heavier burden with the news that a thumb injury would sideline center Clint Capela for four to six weeks and leave Houston without three starters.

Harden’s horrible 3-point shooting in Sunday’s road loss to the Orlando Magic hinted that fatigue might be a factor for the reigning league MVP. However, Harden responded by scoring a season-high 57 points Monday night, continuing his historic run by carrying the Rockets to a 112-94 home win over the Memphis Grizzlies.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

“What he just did, we kind of take it for granted a little bit,” said D’Antoni, who recorded the 600th win of his NBA coaching career. “It’s like, ‘Oh, look at that, isn’t that cute? It’s 57!’ I mean, on dead legs and he played 43 minutes last night. It’s beyond impressive. It’s rare that people can do what he’s done, if anybody.”12

Harden indeed entered rare air with his 17th consecutive game scoring at least 30 points. It’s the longest such streak since Wilt Chamberlain had 20 straight 30-plus-point performances in 1964. The only other players with streaks of 16 straight 30-point games since Chamberlain were Kobe Bryant in 2003 and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1972.

Harden, who has led the Rockets to a 13-4 record during this run, shrugged at being part of such exclusive company.

“The win was important,” Harden said. “I’ve got to get some rest tomorrow and be ready to go Wednesday. Same thing.”

Harden extended his streak with time to spare before halftime. He scored a team-record 36 points in the first half, one shy of Vernon Maxwell’s franchise record for points in either half.cheap nfl nike jerseys free shipping

Harden, who finished three points shy of his franchise record, was 17-of-33 from the floor, including 6-of-15 from 3-point range, and 17-of-18 from the free throw line before receiving a standing ovation when he exited the game with 3:35 remaining.

The Rockets had lost three of their previous five games entering Monday, and MRI results revealed ligament damage in Capela’s right thumb that sources say will need to be surgically repaired. With guards Eric Gordon (knee contusion) and Chris Paul (hamstring strain) still out, the Rockets’ spirits easily could have sagged.

Harden didn’t let that happen, scoring two-thirds of Houston’s points in the first half while D’Antoni tinkered with the rotation, quickly opting to play small lineups when 36-year-old fill-in starting center Nene Hilario rested.

11

NBA clears Cavaliers of wrongdoing in Patrick McCaw signing

The NBA has cleared the Cleveland Cavaliers of any wrongdoing in their brief alliance with forward Patrick McCaw.

At the urging of the Golden State Warriors, the league investigated Cleveland’s signing of McCaw as a restricted free agent before releasing him. cheap nfl jerseys from china nike McCaw played two seasons with the defending champions but did not re-sign with them last summer. The Cavs signed him last month to a two-year, $6 million offer sheet, which the Warriors chose not to match.11

McCaw played in three games for the Cavs and was waived before his contract became guaranteed. He signed with Toronto last week.

The league said Monday it found “no violation of the league’s collective bargaining agreement, including the anti-circumvention rules.”cheap nfl jerseys nike china

The Cavs could have forfeited a draft pick had they been found guilty of any offenses.

12

Ryan Broekhoff finding rhythm in the NBA madness

Dwight Powell interrupts Ryan Broekhoff’s pregame media availability and answers the question about how easy it is for the Australian to find his rhythm despite not playing consistent minutes during his rookie NBA campaign.

Broekhoff proved his Dallas Mavericks teammate prophetic against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, finishing the game with a career high 15 points and three assists in 21 minutes of court time.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“Obviously I came into this league wanting to play and wanting to compete,” Broekhoff said post-game. “Having the opportunity, with a few guys sitting out tonight, it was good. The coaching staff and the players continue to show a confidence in me to shoot the ball. Tonight some of them went in which was a good feeling.12

Broekhoff spent five years plying his trade in Turkey and Russia before coming to the NBA this season, and as is the case with a lot of rookies — even those with his basketball pedigree — he’s found it hard to come by regular minutes in coach Rick Carlisle’s rotation.

Broekhoff has appeared in just 17 of the Mavericks 39 games, and prior to Saturday, his career high of 9 points came against the Pelicans in early December. Broekhoff says he’s been adjusting to the pace of the NBA season on the fly, and is growing more comfortable as the season rolls on.

“Definitely more comfortable, just adjusting to the game, as well as the travel and schedule and how many games — and how quickly the games seem to pop up each week. But I’m definitely feeling more comfortable and more confident in myself to compete at this level,” he said.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“Although opportunities have been a little up-and-down, when I have got on I feel like I can compete with anybody that I’ve come up against. It’s been fun learning and adjusting to all that.”

To go back to Powell’s statement, Broekhoff, who entered the league with a reputation as a sharpshooting marksmen, admits it’s been difficult to find that rhythm when entering a game given his sporadic — at best — minutes.

11

Rockets’ James Harden falls 2 points short of extending 40-point streak

With a missed layup with five seconds remaining, James Harden’s historic scoring five-game run of at least 40 points came to an end in the Houston Rockets’ 110-101 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night.

“Well, we held [Harden] under 40, so I guess that’s a win,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.

Harden finished with 38 points on 13-of-35 shooting, including 5-of-17 from 3 and maybe most notably just 7-of-7 from the free throw line.nfl cheap jerseys nike

“Honestly that streak is pretty cool for stats and whatnot, but honestly the win is more important,” Harden said. “So, came up short and now we’ve got another opportunity to go home and play Denver, who’s playing exceptionally well. So we’ve got to regroup.”11

Harden said he was unaware he was two points short of 40 when he drove to the rim down nine with a few seconds left. He had an obvious off night, with coach Mike D’Antoni suggesting there was possibly some lingering emotion hanging on Harden and the team after their stunning overtime win against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday. Harden started slowly, scoring only nine points on 3-of-15 shooting in the first half.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“My shots were flat in the beginning of the game,” he said. “So I just had to adjust a little bit, get them up. That was another thing, for myself I’ve got to get off to a better start. I picked it up in the third quarter and the second half, but that first half I had the same opportunities I normally get but my shot was just a little flat.”

Harden got it going in the third, scoring 20 in the quarter on 8-of-13 shooting. He had the full arsenal at his disposal — step-back 3s, drives to the rim and, of course, free throws. But after playing the entire third, he sat out the opening of the fourth quarter and didn’t score in the final frame until hitting a 3 with 2:13 left. He got three free throws after an unusual call when Evan Turner fouled PJ Tucker while Harden was taking a 3, and hit a deep 3 with 34 seconds left.

10

Jimmy Butler returns as 76ers cruise to win in Cleveland

Butler was 6-of-10 from the field and hit three 3-pointers. He gave Simmons most of the credit.

“Ben is doing what he always does for us, passing the ball,” Butler said. “When he’s playing like that, the game is really easy for everybody.”

Simmons had his 15th career triple-double.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“Having Jimmy back helped because we had multiple guys that could put it away,” he said. “I just do what I can offensively and help find guys who are scoring. Numbers are numbers. Obviously, stat-wise, it looks good.”

Landry Shamet added 16 points for Philadelphia, J.J. Redick had 14 points and Wilson Chandler 11.10

Cedi Osman and Jordan Clarkson each scored 18 points for Cleveland. Rodney Hood and Matthew Dellavedova each had 13 points, and rookie point guard Collin Sexton added 12.

Philadelphia broke it open after Cleveland cut a 13-point lead to 86-85 late in the third quarter.

The Sixers led 86-73 midway through the quarter, but Cleveland scored 12 straight points and trailed by one after Larry Nance Jr.’s dunk. Chandler hit a 3-pointer from the corner as time ran out in the period, starting the deciding run.

“The margin for error in this game is very small for us,” Cavaliers coach Larry Drew said. “Margin for errors is not just a turnover — it’s a bad shot, it’s not getting back defensively.”cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The Cavaliers led 44-34 early in the second quarter, but Philadelphia ended the first half on a 31-14 run.

Butler was injured in the first quarter Monday against Detroit and went scoreless in 10 minutes. Philadelphia won that game but lost to Brooklyn and Indiana with Butler out.

“I felt good,” he said. “When you play with such good guys that draw so much attention, I have the easy job. I hang my hat on defense. I don’t care how many shots I get or anything.”

9

Kyrie Irving comes up big for Celtics to deliver OT win versus 76ers

As the Celtics trailed by two in the final 30 seconds of regulation time in Tuesday’s Christmas Day thriller against the Philadelphia 76ers, they had the ball right where they wanted it: in Kyrie Irving’s hands. There is, perhaps, no better shot-maker in the NBA than Irving, who has never found an angle he couldn’t utilize or an arc he couldn’t put on a basketball to get it to drop through the hoop.

The Sixers, meanwhile, had Jimmy Butler — one of the league’s top perimeter defenders, who himself was delivering a spectacular defensive performance — guarding Irving for the game’s most important possession. It was, in short, exactly the matchup both teams were hoping for.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

Irving, never celebrated for his defense or his energy plays, provided plenty of both of them against Philadelphia. In one stretch alone in the first quarter, he rotated over to prevent a JJ Redick layup at the rim, outworked Sixers center Joel Embiid for a rebound and a putback layup, and drew a charge on Butler — all while putting up 16 points in the quarter.9

Those are the kinds of plays that, once a rarity, have become more commonplace for Irving this season. And as a result, it has elevated his play to a place it hasn’t been before.

“I always talk about being on those big stages,” Irving said. “It’s just so much fun. It’s competition at its highest. I love going against the best.”

Still, Irving has the reputation he has as a shot-maker for a reason. And it was that shot-making that not only helped stake Boston to that early lead, but brought the Celtics home in the fourth quarter when it looked like Philadelphia had taken control of the proceedings.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Time and again, Irving managed to pull the Celtics out of the fire and back to safety:

There was the circus layup he converted after reentering the game with 8:13 remaining and the Celtics trailing by seven that jump-started a quick 10-3 run to tie the contest. There was the ridiculous shot to tie the game at the end of regulation that somehow eluded Butler’s outstretched arms — continuing a trend that, according to Second Spectrum tracking data, saw Irving go 6-for-10 and score 14 points against one of the league’s best defenders. There were the back-to-back 3s midway through overtime to cap a 10-1 run that turned a five-point Boston deficit into a lead it would never relinquish. And of Boston’s 20 points in crunch time, Irving scored half of them — and hit more field goals and 3-pointers than Philadelphia’s entire team while doing so.

Each of those on its own is impressive enough. But collectively, they create a performance few others in the NBA could even contemplate pulling off on any stage — let alone on Christmas Day.

“He’s done that his entire career — take and make tough shots,” said Butler, who finished with 24 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists of his own in over 43 minutes. “That’s why he is the type of player that he is in this league. That’s why I respect his game so much.

12

John Wall dominates Lakers while Wizards await Trevor Ariza’s arrival

In their first game since reworking a deal for Trevor Ariza, the Washington Wizards played perhaps their best game of the season, with John Wall and Bradley Beal playing like a dominant All-Star backcourt.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

The Wizards snapped a four-game losing streak doing something not seen often in their franchise history — they got the better of LeBron James. Wall exploded for 40 points, 14 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks while Beal added 25 points and 12 rebounds in an inspired 128-110 win over the Los Angeles Lakers at a packed Capital One Arena.

Ariza played for the Wizards from 2012 to 2014, and Washington management hopes the veteran will have a positive impact in the Wizards’ locker room during what has been a tumultuous season.12

“We got to move forward,” Beal said when asked about the trade. “… It was good to see [Oubre’s] development, and he’s like my little brother. From that aspect, I’m a little sad about it, hurt by it. But it is a business at the end of the day.”

But Beal also said Ariza is the “perfect fit” for what the Wizards need.

“I get my O.G. back — he’s my vet — in Trevor Ariza,” Beal said. “I embrace that, that’s a plus. It’s [the trade] kind of a two-fold situation. Trev has a spark about himself. He has a true desire to win. He doesn’t care what it looks like — he is going to go out there and do it.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

After a 2-9 start to the season, the Wizards are still hoping to contend for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. If Wall plays the way he did from the start against the Lakers, when he had 28 points and eight assists in the first half — including a step-back rainbow jumper at the buzzer over Tyson Chandler — the Wizards should be a lot better.

“He’s obviously the key,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “Him and Brad are the key. They are the best players, they are All-Star players, but they need to bring that energy every night. It goes on them and then our role players need to be stars in their roles. That’s what makes good teams go. We have been banged up. We are playing different lineups, but that is no excuse to play hard. That’s your job — you have to do that.”

11

James Harden doesn’t deny he got away with travel late vs. Jazz

When legally executed, James Harden’s step-back jumper is one of the league’s most lethal weapons and heavily debated topics, as many opponents take umbrage with the allowance of a “gather step” and insist the reigning NBA MVP’s go-to move should be ruled a travel on a regular basis.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

The move Harden made in the final minute of the Houston Rockets’ 102-97 win over the Utah Jazz on Monday didn’t fall into that category. It was simply a missed travel at a critical time, leading to Harden’s getting three free throws in a one-possession game with 54.6 seconds remaining.11

The missed traveling call added a controversial element, but Harden’s 47-point outing against the Jazz was the continuation of an offensive groove for the Rockets superstar. He is averaging 39.5 points per game during Houston’s four-game winning streak, highlighted by a pair of triple-doubles, including a 50-point performance against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Harden attributed his recent dominance to “just being aggressive,” noting that the Rockets need to get on a roll due to their disappointing start. Houston improved to 15-14 by beating the Jazz, putting the Rockets in 10th place in the Western Conference standings.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“We’re in a hole,” Harden said. “I keep saying the same thing, but you look at the standings and it sucks. Just look and see that you’re not where you’re supposed to be. We’ll just continue to work and build our way up there.”

Harden hurt the Jazz in the three areas in which he scores in bunches when he’s at his best: around the rim, at the free throw line and behind the 3-point line. Nine of Harden’s 14 field goals came in the restricted area, including a spectacular, right-handed slam over reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert after driving down the lane. He was 15-of-16 on free throws. And while Harden had an off night from long range (4-of-12), he swished his last two 3s, breaking a tie with a 29-footer with 1:44 remaining and drilling a step-back dagger with 13.3 seconds left.

“I say it all the time: He’s the best offensive player I’ve ever seen,” said Rockets guard Chris Paul, who had 11 points and nine assists in the win. “Like, seriously. He can drive, he can shoot, he’s got ballhandling. It’s going to be a tough night for you, whoever it is. I don’t care what you’re doing.”

Celtics’ Kyrie Irving says he’s fine after tweaking shoulder

Irving left Thursday night’s game with 3:34 left in the fourth quarter and the outcome already decided after getting tangled up. He had ice put on the shoulder while he watched from the bench, and did his television walk-off interview with it still on, but had nothing on the shoulder in the locker room, and said he’d be fine.

“It was just a weird play at the end of the game,” Irving said. “I don’t know. It’s like I got caught up as I was trying to get the ball out and pass it to Marcus for a 3. It just caught me weird on my shoulder. So it’s probably an AC joint or something like that. I’m not diagnosing myself, I’m pretty sure. I saw the doctors afterward and they said AC joint or something going on there, but I’ll be all right.”cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Irving continued his hot shooting over the past several weeks, scoring 22 points on 9-for-15 shooting (and 3-for-6 from 3-point range). Since Nov. 1, Irving is averaging 24.8 points while shooting 50.5 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from 3.

After losing here to the lowly Knicks two weeks ago, Irving said he and the Celtics were happy to not only exact some level of revenge but continue the momentum they’ve built over what now is a four-game winning streak.

“We just had fun kicking people’s ass,” Irving said. “We should, we really should. And it should be … competition in itself, it should bring the best out of you. And the way you bring the best out of your opponent is you play at a certain level where they either match it or they exceed it or they don’t do anything at all and they just give up.”

Celtics center Aron Baynes, meanwhile, exited the game after just two minutes because of a sprained left ankle, and didn’t return. After the game, though, Baynes walked out of the arena without a limp or any kind of boot, and said he felt fine — which was precisely what Celtics coach Brad Stevens expected him to say.nfl cheap nike jerseys

“In typical Baynes fashion, he’ll do 3-on-3 drills tomorrow after he does full-court sprints and runs a marathon and then he’ll get ready for the flight, then he’ll play on Saturday,” Stevens said with a smile, and tongue planted firmly in cheek. “But I don’t know if the doctors agree with that, so we’ll see.”

9

The Sixers being this good is a minor miracle

Philly arrives in Toronto on Wednesday essentially in a second-place tie in the Eastern Conference standings. That’s a minor miracle. The past nine months have seen an incredible streak of bad luck and, for lack of a better term, uncontrollable happenstance that has threatened to wreck the momentum that took so many years to craft.

It hasn’t been framed that way because the Sixers and their fans maybe haven’t stopped to consider it; they’ve just dealt with one trauma after another. But what a run.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

It seems like it started in late March against the tanking New York Knicks on a simple give-and-go with Joel Embiid and Markelle Fultz. Fultz’s shoulder — yes, that shoulder — ran into Embiid’s face and fractured his orbital bone. Watch the replay, it was crazy; they weren’t even in traffic. It was just a horrid bit of fortune.

At that point, the Sixers had won seven in a row and were just laying waste to teams. They were ramping up to their finest ball of the season. Heck, they were ramping up to their finest ball of the decade.9

Embiid needed surgery and missed 10 games. The Sixers kept winning, eventually getting to 17 in a row, but that belied the fallout. When Embiid came back in the playoffs he wasn’t himself. He had a few good games, but his shooting, rebounding, scoring and efficiency plunged in the postseason. Against the Boston Celtics they needed their best player because Ben Simmons was frozen and Embiid just couldn’t deliver.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Then, of course, we have the great Bryan Colangelo twitter fiasco of 2018. There was so much scrutiny and stress as amateur and professional investigators combed through the internet that it might have been lost on the masses just how ludicrous the entire scenario was.

It is incumbent on any major business to prepare contingency and disaster-response plans. But even in the world of the NBA — in which there seem to be disasters of some sort every few weeks — there was nothing in the handbook for this one. Even now, months later, it still isn’t totally clear what happened as Colangelo has gone underground and no one wants to talk about it. The upshot is the Sixers lost their GM days before they were about to embark on arguably the most important offseason in franchise history.

Would having Colangelo at the controls instead of the front office scrambling to hold things together have made a difference? Would the Sixers have landed a free agent instead of striking out and having to absorb Wilson Chandler as their major offseason move? Would they have been able to close the Nemanja Bjelica deal instead of it falling apart? We don’t know.

What we do know is that it was a letdown of a summer as their competitors made major moves. It created pressure for them to make the in-season move for Jimmy Butler, rolling the dice that he’ll re-sign.