James Harden finished with 43 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds to earn his fourth 40-point triple double of the season as the Houston Rockets hammered the Cleveland Cavaliers 141-113 on Friday.
Harden set a club record with his 13th 40-point game of the season despite sitting out the fourth quarter with the contest already in hand.
He made all 11 of his free throws and got his 10th rebound with 82 seconds left in the third quarter when Cleveland’s Jalen Jones missed a three point attempt.
Harden said the biggest thing on their mind is winning the top seed in the Western Conference.
“I think we’ve all had that in the back of our mind. It was just a far reach earlier in the season,” Harden said.
“Now it’s pretty close. We’ve just got to continue to do what we’ve been doing. Playing well, taking care of opportunities like this tonight. Just continue to get better, strive to get better.”
Houston used the long ball to dominate Cleveland by draining 16 of 37 shots from beyond the arc.
They set the tone early with a burst of scoring in the first quarter and built that up to a 113-81 lead at the end of the third.
Harden was eight of 16 from long range while Austin Rivers, Gerald Green, P.J. Tucker, and Gary Clark each hit two three pointers.
Centre Clint Capela finished with 19 points and Rivers tallied 12 points for the Rockets. Cedi Osman led Cleveland with 15 points while Alec Burks and Collin Sexton combined for 27 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.
The lowly Cavaliers suffered their 12th straight loss as they allowed Houston to shoot 56 percent through three quarters.
“We just couldn’t stop them,” Cavaliers coach Larry Drew said.
“They were raining threes all over the place. They broke us down off the dribble. They are in a rhythm now and playing very good basketball.”
Elsewhere, Kawhi Leonard scored 20 points and had 11 rebounds as the host Toronto Raptors defeated Brooklyn Nets 122-105. The win avenged a 106-105 overtime loss to Brooklyn last month and extended the Raptors’ win streak to four games.
Leonard has now scored 20 points in 18 consecutive games for Toronto.
Pascal Siakam added 16 points, Serge Ibaka had 14 points and nine rebounds, Norman Powell and OG Anunoby each scored 13 off the bench for Toronto.
Brooklyn’s D’Angelo Russell scored 24 points, Shabazz Napier added 15 points, and Jarrett Allen had nine points and 12 rebounds in the loss.
Russell made consecutive jumpers to cut Toronto’s lead to 12 with 4:41 remaining in the third, but soon after Siakam made one of two free throws to boost the Raptors lead to 17.
Toronto stretched the lead to 23 with 65 seconds to go in the third when Powell finished off a reverse layup.
Also, Stephen Curry reached another milestone as he passed Jason Terry for third in all-time NBA three point list during the Golden State Warriors 146-109 win over the hapless Chicago Bulls.
Curry scored his 2,283rd three pointer at just 30 years of age. Ray Allen holds the all-time record of 2,973 threes and Reggie Miller’s 2,560 is the second most. Curry finished the game with a total of 2,285.
“Growing up I watched those guys so to be next to them is pretty special,” Curry said.
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