Rockets ground Clippers for 14th straight victory
THE NBA-leading Houston Rockets capped a perfect February with a 105-92 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday to stretch their winning streak to 14 games.
The Rockets, led by 25 points from James Harden, finished February 12-0 and with their second 14-game win streak of the season became just the sixth team in league history to post multiple streaks of at least 14 wins in the same campaign.
“Extremely important,” Harden said of the victory over the Clippers, potential early playoff opponents who had beaten the Rockets twice this season.
The victory kept the Rockets atop the Western Conference, leading the reigning NBA champions Golden State Warriors, who beat the Wizards 109-101 in Washington.
The Rockets led by as many as 27 points. Harden delivered the game’s signature moment in the first quarter when he wrong-footed Wesley Johnson with a quick cross-over dribble, Johnson falling backwards to the court and receiving a long stare from Harden, who then drained a 3-pointer over him.
Harden wasn’t on the floor for the Rockets’ January 15 loss to the Clippers, when on-court clashes spilled over and a couple of Houston players tried to confront the Clippers in their locker room. This time there was no such drama as the Rockets seized control early, taking a 34-12 lead after one quarter.
The Clippers trailed just 72-83 going into the final period, but Houston pulled away inexorably in the fourth.
Tobias Harris tallied 24 points and Montrezl Harrell added 22 for the Clippers, who lost for just the fourth time in 11 games since trading Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons.
Elsewhere, it was: Thunder 111, Mavericks 110 (overtime); Pelicans 121, Spurs 116; Celtics 134, Hornets 106; Pistons 110, Bucks 87; Suns 110, Grizzlies 102; Hawks 107, Pacers 102; and Raptors 117, Magic 104;