James Harden scored 35 points for his 22nd consecutive game with 30 or more and the Houston Rockets never trailed and held off a late charge for a 121-119 win over the Toronto Raptors on Friday night in Houston.
After averaging 52.2 points over the last five games, capped by a franchise-record 61 in Wednesday’s win over the Knicks, Harden’s torrid scoring pace slowed a bit as all of Houston’s starters scored 10 points or more.
Eric Gordon led that group with 24, Kenneth Faried had 21, P.J. Tucker added 18 and Austin Rivers scored 13. Faried also had a season-high 14 rebounds and blocked two shots in his third game since signing with the Rockets to fill in with Clint Capela recovering from thumb surgery.
Houston led by 11 points after two free throws by Harden with 1:14 left before the Raptors made three straight three-pointers to cut the lead to 121-119 with 27.3 remaining. Gordon missed a three to give the Raptors a chance, but Kawhi Leonard’s three-point attempt was short.
It’s the 22nd straight game where Harden has led his team and Houston’s opponent in scoring, which moves him past Michael Jordan for the second-longest streak in NBA history behind Wilt Chamberlain, who did it in 40 in a row.
Harden’s stretch of 30-point games is the fourth-longest in league history, behind three streaks by Chamberlain of 25, 31 and 65 games. Harden made all 15 of his free throws, but struggled from long-range, shooting just two of 13 on three-point attempts.
The strong play of Faried gave Harden some much-needed help Friday and The Beard will get another reinforcement Sunday night when Chris Paul is expected to return after missing 17 games with a strained left hamstring.
The Raptors got 32 points from Leonard as they lost their second in a row.
at Milwaukee 108, Charlotte 99: Giannis Antetokounmpo had 34 points and 14 rebounds and NBA-leading Milwaukee rallied to beat Charlotte, outscoring the Hornets 32-12 in the fourth quarter.
Malcolm Brogdon added 19 points, Eric Bledsoe had 18, and Khris Middleton 15 to help the Bucks improve to 35-12 with their sixth straight victory. They are 22-4 at home.
Charlotte star Kemba Walker was injured in a scrum with 2:06 left when Antetokounmpo landed him. Walker headed directly to the locker room. Nicolas Batum led the Hornets with 19 points, Jeremy Lamb and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist each had 16, and Walker had 10 on three-of-12 shooting.
at Denver 132, Phoenix 95: Paul Millsap scored 20 points and the Nuggets overcame Nikola Jokic’s one-game suspension to race past the short-handed Suns, who lost their seventh in a row.
Jokic, the Nuggets’ leader in points, rebounds and assists, was banished for a night by the NBA for leaving the bench during an altercation in Utah two nights earlier. Devin Booker led the Suns with 35 points.
Brooklyn 109, at New York 99: Theo Pinson, Ed Davis and Shabazz Napier carried a Nets bench that dominated Knicks — even without Spencer Dinwiddie — for their sixth straight victory.
Pinson, on a two-way contract, scored a career-high 19 points. Davis had 17 points and 16 rebounds, and Napier added 18 points as the Nets’ reserves turned around and then ran away with the game even without Dinwiddie, their sixth man who has torn ligaments in his right thumb.
D’Angelo Russell was largely ineffective with just 12 points, but Brooklyn put four reserves in double figures and had a 59-33 rebounding advantage.
Trey Burke scored 25 points and Noah Vonleh had a career-high 22 points and 13 rebounds for the visiting Knicks. They have lost eight in a row and 21 of their last 23.
Washington 95, at Orlando 91: Jeff Green made the go-ahead layup with 42 seconds left and scored a season-high 24 points to help the Wizards win.
Bradley Beal had 27 points and seven assists for the Wizards. They won for the fifth time in seven games. Nikola Vucevic led the Magic with 28 points and nine rebounds.
Miami 100, at Cleveland 94: Justise Winslow scored 27 points and Hassan Whiteside had 14 points and 13 rebounds to help Miami beat Cleveland.
Dwyane Wade scored 13 points in his final game at Quicken Loans Arena. Cedi Osman scored a career-high 29 points for the Cavaliers. They have lost 18 of 19.
Sacramento 99, at Memphis 96: Buddy Hield scored 26 points, De’Aaron Fox added 22, including a key 19-footer in the final minute, and Sacramento held off Memphis.
Omri Casspi led the Grizzlies with 18 points. The have lost eight straight.
at Utah 106, Minnesota 102: Donovan Mitchell scored 24 points and had a career-high 11 assists and the Jazz outlasted the Timberwolves.
Rudy Gobert added had 18 points and 16 rebounds to help the Jazz win for the eighth time in nine games. Karl-Anthony Towns had 33 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota.