Harden sparks coach-less Rockets over winless Pistons
By KRISTIE RIEKEN
AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON — James Harden scored 20 points, Omer Asik had 14 and the Houston Rockets beat the winless Detroit Pistons 96-82 on Saturday night in their first game without coach Kevin McHale.
The team announced earlier Saturday that McHale was taking an immediate leave of absence to deal with a family matter.
Assistant coach Kelvin Sampson took over for McHale, and said before the game that he hoped the team would come together to win for McHale.
The Rockets did just that, using a third-quarter run to build a big lead and break a three-game losing streak with their first victory at home. The Pistons fell to 0-7.
Brandon Knight scored 16 points for Detroit and Greg Monroe added 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Detroit scored five quick points to get within four midway through the third quarter. The Rockets responded with an 11-2 spurt highlighted by six points from Harden to make it 69-56 with less than four minutes left in the period.
Harden was fouled on a layup he made after a nifty assist from Jeremy Lin during that run. Harden slapped the padded part of the goal after the shot, and promptly knocked down the free throw for the three-point play.
Houston padded its lead by scoring the first eight points of the fourth quarter. Detroit couldn’t do anything offensively in the fourth quarter and missed its first 10 shots.
The Pistons didn’t score in the quarter until Knight’s jump shot with six minutes remaining made it 80-59.
Houston came in averaging almost 20 turnovers a game but had a season-low 14 against Detroit.
This was the second meeting between these teams this season. Harden scored 37 points and had 12 assists in a 105-96 victory in his debut with the Rockets on Oct. 31 after a trade from Oklahoma City days earlier.
Marcus Morris added 12 points for Houston and Toney Douglas had 11. Lin helped out with seven points, eight assists and four rebounds.
Houston was up 72-57 entering the fourth quarter.
The Rockets were up by five at the end of the first quarter, and used a 14-7 run capped by a 3-pointer from Douglas to open the second quarter and extend the lead to 34-22.
Houston’s lead was 15 points late in the second quarter before Detroit scored nine straight points to end the period and cut the Rockets’ lead to 47-41 at halftime.
NOTES: Houston rookie Terrence Jones made his NBA debut on Saturday night. He had five points. … Houston’s Chandler Parsons has made at least one 3-pointer in each game this season. … There is no timetable for McHale’s return.
BOBCATS 101, MAVERICKS 97, OT
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had a career-high 25 points and 12 rebounds to help the Bobcats snap a 16-game losing streak against the Mavericks.
Kidd-Gilchrist was 8 of 12 from the field and had a pair of key offensive rebounds off missed foul shots late in the game.
Kemba Walker added 26 points and seven assists for Charlotte and Ramon Sessions made some big shots down the stretch and in overtime, finishing with 12 points.
Dallas lost for the second straight night on the road after a 3-0 start.
O.J. Mayo scored 22 points and Vince Carter had 19 points for the Mavericks. Carter, who was 5 for 8 from 3-point range, missed an opportunity to win the game at the end of regulation when his fallaway jumper was short.
PACERS 89, WIZARDS 85
INDIANAPOLIS — Paul George scored 20 points and Indiana stopped a three-game slide.
Roy Hibbert added seven points, 12 rebounds and two blocks for the Pacers (3-4). Gerald Green had 15 points and Lance Stephenson scored 12 in his first start of the season.
Washington carried a 72-70 lead into the fourth quarter, and Jordan Crawford promptly made a 3-pointer to extend the lead to five. But the Pacers then grabbed control with a 10-0 run.
Emeka Okafor and Bradley Beal had 17 points apiece for the Wizards (0-5), and A.J. Price finished with 12 points and 14 assists.
BULLS 87, TIMBERWOLVES 80
CHICAGO — Nate Robinson scored 18 points and the Bulls ended the Timberwolves’ three-game winning streak.
Chicago lost starting point guard Kirk Hinrich to a right hip strain in the second quarter, and Robinson helped pick up the slack by playing 31 minutes. Hinrich had 11 points in the period as the Bulls beat Minnesota for the sixth straight time.
Joakim Noah added 17 points and seven rebounds and Luol Deng had 16 points and seven boards for the Bulls (4-2).
Nikola Pekovic led the short-handed Timberwolves (4-2) with 18 points and eight rebounds. Andrei Kirilenko added 11 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.
The Timberwolves had just 11 players available. Ricky Rubio (left knee surgery) and Kevin Love (fractured right hand) have been out all season. J.J. Barea missed his second straight game with a sprained left foot, while Brandon Roy missed his first game of the season with a sore knee.
76ERS 93, RAPTORS 83
TORONTO — Thaddeus Young, Jrue Holiday and Nick Young scored 16 points apiece, helping the 76ers pick up another road win.
Spencer Hawes had 12 points and 11 rebounds, Dorell Wright added 15 points and Philadelphia won its third straight, with all three victories on the road. It’s the first time the 76ers have done that since February 2003.
The Sixers, who won 106-100 at Boston on Friday night, knocked off another Atlantic Division opponent thanks to a huge second quarter that saw them turn a six-point deficit into a 19-point lead.
Andrea Bargnani led Toronto with 23 points, while DeMar DeRozan had 19. Jose Calderon had 14 points and 11 assists, but the Raptors lost their third straight.
CELTICS 96, BUCKS 92
MILWAUKEE — Paul Pierce scored 25 points, Kevin Garnett added 18 and the Celtics rallied for the victory.
Boston (3-3) got even with the Bucks after Milwaukee knocked off the Celtics 99-88 in Boston on Nov. 2.
Monta Ellis led the Bucks with 32 points, while Samuel Dalembert added 14 points and eight rebounds.
Rajon Rondo had 10 points and 10 assists for the Celtics, giving him 30 straight games with 10 or more assists, the third-longest streak in NBA history. Magic Johnson has the longest streak at 46 games from April 1983 to February 1984.
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