Harden sets Rockets' course for West seeding

TORONTO • Just a couple of months ago, the Rockets were second to last in the National Basketball Association's Western Conference but they are headed back to Houston next in a three-way tie to be the West's No. 3 seed.

On Tuesday night at Toronto's Scotiabank Arena, NBA scoring leader James Harden unleashed 35 points on a poor shooting night and Gerald Green added 18 off the bench as the Rockets beat the Raptors 107-95.

Harden went 12-of-30 from the floor, sinking only 3-of-9 from three-point range, but scored 19 points in the fourth quarter as the Rockets stretched their win streak to six games.

"I didn't shoot the ball well at all tonight but I'm going to keep going," he said.

"Total team effort. We've just got to stay healthy. This winning streak we've been on, we've been playing well. We just have to keep it going."

Chris Paul had 10 assists and Clint Capela grabbed 15 rebounds for the Rockets, who moved level for third in the West with Portland and Oklahoma City at 39-25.

"A whole lot of games left, we can't pay attention to it (the standings)," Paul said.


"We've just got to stay focused on how we're playing. We've been saying that since early in the season since we were, what, 11-14?

"For us, it's about how we're playing. I guess it's nice to be in a tie for third, but it's more about how we're playing."

It was the second loss in a row for the Raptors, who fell to 46-19, 21/2 games behind Eastern Conference leaders Milwaukee Bucks.

Kawhi Leonard led Toronto with 26 points, while Pascal Siakam added 17 points and 10 rebounds and Serge Ibaka had 10 points and 15 rebounds.

Raptors coach Nick Nurse was pleased with his team's performance despite the defeat.

"I liked a lot of what we were doing, I thought we were unlucky even not to do better," he said.

"We tipped a lot of balls around, they were shaky out of some of the traps and stumbling around and somehow still getting something out of it.

"Again, it was good to see us go at a prime-time scorer like that (Harden) and figure out different ways we can play our defence. Good learning experience for us."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2019, with the headline 'Harden sets Rockets' course for West seeding'. Print Edition | Subscribe