Rockets rally to win Paul’s return, Thunder triumph
January 28 2019 10:35 PM
James Harden
Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) celebrates a basket against the Orlando Magic during the fourth quarter of their game on Sunday. PICTURE: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

AFP/Los Angeles

Chris Paul returned from injury, but it was James Harden’s 40 points that fuelled the Houston Rockets’ 103-98 come-from-behind victory over the Orlando Magic in the NBA on Sunday.
Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Harden extended his streak of games with at least 30 points to 23. He chipped in 11 rebounds, six assists and three blocked shots — including one in the last 30 seconds to help the Rockets seal the win.
Paul, who missed 17 games with a left hamstring injury, finished with 12 points, six assists and five steals.
Houston trailed by as many as 15 in the third quarter, never taking the lead until there were less than five minutes remaining.
Harden keyed their rally, scoring seven straight Rockets points in the final 2:12 of the contest starting with a basket that put Houston up 95-93.
“They kept digging it and digging it and finally we held them to 37 in the second half,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “That was awesome — that was really good defense.”
Paul George led the way in Oklahoma City, scored 36 points and pulling down 13 rebounds in the Thunder’s 118-112 victory over the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks.
Russell Westbrook notched his 16th triple-double of the season with 13 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, and the Thunder put the brakes on Milwaukee’s Most Valuable Player candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo to post a fifth straight win.Oklahoma City led by as many as 19 points in the third quarter.
Milwaukee closed to within three with 1:09 left in the game, but George answered Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe’s three-pointer with his own from beyond the arc to push the Thunder’s lead back to 113-107 and contributed two of the free throws that Oklahoma City used to seal the game. 
Antetokounmpo finished with 27 points and 18 rebounds and Khris Middleton added 22 points for the Bucks, who saw their six-game winning streak end.
In Dallas, Toronto star Kawhi Leonard scored 33 points and the Raptors withstood a triple-double from Dallas rookie Luka Doncic in a 123-120 victory over the Mavericks.
Pascal Siakam converted a three-point play with 3:56 remaining to break a 108-108 tie as the Raptors erased a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit.
Danny Green stretched Toronto’s lead to 116-112 with 1:34 to play, and after Dallas’ Harrison Barnes missed a pair of free throws Leonard scored on a driving layup.
Mavs prodigy Doncic, 19, scored 35 points with 12 rebounds and 10 assists to become the first to post two triple-doubles in the NBA while still a teenager.
However, it wasn’t enough to prevent Toronto from improving to 37-15 to pull into a virtual tie atop the East with the 35-13 Bucks.
Elsewhere, the NBA-worst Cleveland Cavaliers snapped a six-game skid with a 104-101 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
The game came down to the final possession, with Bulls guard Zach LaVine’s three-point attempt over Cedi Osman bouncing off the rim at the buzzer.
The Cavs limited the Bulls to one basket from the field in the final 3:50 as they clung on for the win.
“We haven’t been in that situation often, but when we do get there, it’s important moving forward that we learn how to play down the stretch, we learn how to execute, how to defensively get the stops that we need,” Cavaliers head coach Larry Drew said. “Certainly any time you do that on the road it makes it that much sweeter.”
In New York, the Miami Heat climbed back to.500 with a 106-97 victory over the Knicks. Miami guard Wayne Ellington scored all 19 of his points in the second half, including a pair of three pointers that pushed the Heat’s lead to 100-92 with 1:08 remaining.
Veteran Dwyane Wade added 15 points off the bench for Miami in his penultimate appearance at Madison Square Garden before he retires at the end of the season.
New York 97 Miami 106
Houston 103 Orlando 98
Dallas 120 Toronto 123
Minnesota 111 Utah 125
San Antonio 132 Washington 119
Oklahoma City 118 Milwaukee 112
Chicago 101 Cleveland 104
LA Clippers 122 Sacramento 108
LA Lakers 116 Phoenix 102

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