NBA: James Harden returns, leads Nets past Spurs

James Harden takes a shot as Devin Vassell (left) defends at Barclays Center, in Brooklyn, New York, on May 12, 2021.
James Harden takes a shot as Devin Vassell (left) defends at Barclays Center, in Brooklyn, New York, on May 12, 2021.PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - James Harden collected 18 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds in his return from a strained right hamstring as the Brooklyn Nets posted a 128-116 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in the National Basketball Association (NBA) on Wednesday (May 12) night in New York.

Harden came off the bench for the first time since April 22, 2012, when he was a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

He played under a minutes restriction after missing the previous 18 games, and he wound up logging 25 minutes and 44 seconds of court time in his first game since April 5.

Landry Shamet led the Nets with 21 points on a night when Kyrie Irving sat out after sustaining a facial contusion in the team's Tuesday win at Chicago.

Brooklyn earned their third win a row.

DeMar DeRozan scored 21 points, but San Antonio lost for the seventh time in nine games.

In Salt Lake City, Damian Lillard scored 30 points, CJ McCollum added 26 and Portland led the entire second half in beating Utah 105-98.

Carmelo Anthony netted 18 points off the bench to help Portland earn their fifth straight win and their ninth victory in 10 games.

The Trail Blazers also have just two games remaining as they attempt to clinch either the fifth or sixth spot in the West to avoid the play-in tournament.

Jordan Clarkson scored 29 points to lead the Jazz, who struggled to a higher degree than usual in the absence of injured All-Star guards Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley.

They saw their lead over the second-place Phoenix Suns slip to 11/2 games in the race for the No. 1 position throughout the play-offs.

Elsewhere, Kyle Kuzma drove for the decisive lay-up with 6.9 seconds remaining to give hosts Los Angeles a 124-122 victory over Houston.

Talen Horton-Tucker contributed 23 points and 10 assists, Andre Drummond recorded 20 points and 10 rebounds and Kuzma had 19 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

The seventh-place Lakers are a game behind Dallas and Portland and would need to finish in at least sixth place to avoid the West's play-in round.

The Lakers played without LeBron James (ankle) for the 26th time in the past 28 games.

Anthony Davis (adductor) also sat out.