James Harden scored 41 points and the Houston Rockets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 113-109 on Tuesday for their seventh win in the last eight games.
Harden has scored 30 points or more in a career-high seven games in a row, marking the first time a player has done that since Russell Westbrook had eight consecutive 30-point games in November 2016.
A three-pointer by Paul George with less than two minutes left got Oklahoma City within four points before Harden missed a three-point shot. Westbrook missed a shot for the Thunder, but George stole the ball from Harden and was fouled by him.
George made both free throws to get the Thunder within 2 with 43.6 seconds left. Harden then drove past George and into the lane for a layup to make it 112-108 with 20.4 seconds left.
Westbrook made one of two free throws to cut it to three with 15 seconds left, and Austin Rivers made a free throw with 7.4 seconds left to secure the win.
George had 28 points and 14 rebounds for the Thunder, and Westbrook added 21 points with nine rebounds and nine assists.
Harden became the first player to score 40 or more points on Christmas since Kevin Durant had 44 for the Thunder in 2010. Harden’s latest big game came as the Rockets played without Chris Paul, who missed his second straight game with a strained left hamstring. The ;nine-time All-Star is out for at least the next two weeks with the injury suffered Thursday night.
Clint Capela had 16 points and tied a season high with 23 rebounds.
The Rockets were up by six points with about four minutes left when Rivers, whom they signed on Monday, made a three-pointer to make it 107-98.
Houston had a one-point lead in the fourth when Harden re-entered the game and found Capela on consecutive possessions for dunks to make it 100-95. Eric Gordon had a layup seconds later to push the lead to seven.
Harden continued the run after the timeout with a driving jump shot before the Thunder scored their first basket in more than three minutes on a layup by Grant to cut the lead to 104-97.
at Boston 121, Philadelphia 114 (OT): Kyrie Irving made back-to-back three-pointers in overtime for six of his 40 points and the Celtics rallied to for the win over the 76ers.
Irving, who forced the OT on a jump shot with 20 seconds left in the fourth, also pulled down 10 rebounds for the Celtics, who trailed 113-108 with 3:33 left in the extra period before rallying behind Irving down the stretch.
Ben Simmons’ two free throws with 2:15 left to put the Sixers up 114-112, but Philadelphia didn’t score again.
Irving’s three-pointer with 3:01 left gave Boston its first lead of overtime at 115-114, then after a miss by Philadelphia, Irving hit another 3-pointer with 1:28 left and Boston fans leaped to their feet and cheered louder than they had all night.
Jayson Tatum and Marcus Morris scored 23 apiece for Boston and Terry Rozier had 10 points.
Joel Embiid led Philadelphia with 34 points, making 12 of 12 free throws, and pulled down 16 rebounds. Jimmy Butler scored 24, JJ Redick had 17 points and Ben Simmons added 11 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists for the Sixers.
The Celtics led 57-51 at halftime, but Philadelphia used a 15-2 run in the third while shooting 60 percent in the period and led 89-86 entering the fourth.
Philadelphia shot 60 percent in the third quarter, making five three-pointers, and led 89-86 entering the final quarter.
It stayed tight through the end of the fourth. Chandler got open for a three-pointer with 37 seconds left and the Sixers led 108-106, then Irving pulled up for a 13-foot jumper to tie it at 108 with 20 seconds left.
Redick missed a jumper just before the buzzer and the game went into OT.
Milwaukee 109, at New York 95: Giannis Antetokounmpo had 30 points and 14 rebounds in his Christmas debut, and the Bucks celebrated their return to the holiday schedule by beating the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Brook Lopez scored 20 points for the Bucks, who played on Christmas for the first time since 1977. They were selected for the showcase slate of games largely because of Antetokounmpo but the timing also was perfect to show an emerging team, which improved the NBA’s second-best record to 23-10.
Malcolm Brogdon finished with 17 points for the Bucks, who bounced back from a loss to Miami on Saturday to win for the fifth time in six games.
Rookie Kevin Knox scored 21 points for the Knicks, who have lost six consecutive Christmas Day games and fell to 22-31 in their NBA-record 53 appearances on the holiday.
New York has lost five in a row and 10 of 11 since rallying to stun the Bucks 136-134 in overtime on Dec. 1 at Madison Square Garden.
at Utah 117, Portland 96: Rudy Gobert had 18 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocks while Donovan Mitchell added 19 points to lead the Jazz in the rout.
Joe Ingles chipped in 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists for the Jazz (17-18), who won for the fifth time in their last six home games while shooting 55 percent from the floor.
Damian Lillard score 20 points to lead Portland. Evan Turner added 12 points off the bench. The Blazers (19-15) lost to Utah for the second time in five days after shooting just 39% from the field.
Jae Crowder scored seven of Utah’s first nine second-quarter points, starting with the team’s first three-pointer of the game, to cap a 9-0 run that gave the Jazz a 33-26 lead. The Blazers pulled to within three on three different occasions. Lillard made a couple of baskets to cut the deficit to a basket, then fed Jusuf Nurkic for a layup to trim Utah’s lead to 43-40.
The Jazz pulled away before halftime behind hot shooting from the perimeter. Ingles and Crowder buried back-to-back three-pointers to spark a 16-5 run. Mitchell finished it off by beating the shot clock with another outside basket, giving the Jazz a 59-45 lead.