Rockets win without scoring leader Harden, routing Magic 116-98

HOUSTON ROCKETS GUARD Eric Gordon (10) goes up for a shot in front of Orlando Magic guard Elfrid Payton (2) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday in Orlando, Fla.

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Gerald Green scored 27 points, Clint Capela had 21 points and eight rebounds and the Houston Rockets got by without NBA scoring leader James Harden, routing the Orlando Magic 116-98 on Wednesday night.

Harden was sidelined by a strained left hamstring.

Green made his first five 3-point shots and finished 7 for 10 from behind the arc for the Rockets, who were never behind and led by as many as 28 late in the third quarter.

Eric Gordon added 17 points and six assists to help Houston tune up for its Thursday night showdown with the Golden State Warriors.

Aaron Gordon led the Magic with 16 points after missing his first eight shots. Elfrid Payton and Mario Hezonja added 14 each in Orlando's 12th loss on 13 games.

The Magic (12-27) missed 16 of their first 18 shots and fell behind by 15 points before the end of the first quarter. A scoring burst by Hezonja kept them in the game in the second quarter but they could get no closer than nine.

Capela scored on a layup, a dunk and two free throws during the Rockets' 15-5 spurt at the outset of the second half, turning the game into a rout at 70-46.

Houston shot 44 percent (15 for 34) from 3-point range while Orlando shot 19 percent (6 for 31).


Rockets: The game was only the second missed by Harden in the last four seasons . . . After getting 10 points and five rebounds, Nene left the game with a bruised right knee.

Magic: F Jonathon Simmons left the game in the second quarter with back spasms and did not return.


Rockets: Host Golden State on Wednesday night.

Magic: Host Cleveland on Saturday night. ———


PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid shook off a sprained right hand that nearly kept him out of the lineup to score 21 points, grab 11 rebounds and lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 112-106 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night.

The Sixers snapped a 12-game losing streak to the Spurs. They needed all 35 minutes from Embiid to knock off short-handed San Antonio.

Embiid suffered the injury in a hard fall Saturday against the Suns. Philadelphia's leading scorer and rebounder sat as his locker before the game and said his hand was swollen and he couldn't shoot.

Embiid used a soft touch to sink a couple of shots during pregame drills, and that was enough to convince the Sixers he could play through the injury.

The Sixers blew a 16-point lead and might have been thumped from the outset had the Spurs not sat five players.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich benched Manu Ginobili, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker and Rudy Gay with his team playing the second of backto-back games.

Ben Simmons put the Sixers ahead 106-103 on a goaltended basket and free throw. JJ Redick buried a long jumper — with an assist from Embiid — and Simmons shook the rim with a dunk that brought the fans to their feet and sealed the win.

Coach Brett Brown had all but ruled out Embiid before the game.

"When you see it, you see the bruising on his palm," Brown said. "When you go back and look at how he fell, you're surprised that's all it is. It's a club hand. And it's his shooting hand."

The Sixers had been used to playing without their cornerstone center. He missed his first two seasons with foot injuries and was limited to 31 games last season. He's missed nine of Philadelphia's 37 games this season.

"If you told us ... he was going to play this amount of games and minutes, we'd all be quite pleased," Brown said.

Embiid had a hand in the 76ers' fast start. He grabbed a rebound and had a putback basket for the first score of the game and had six points and six rebounds in the first quarter.

He slammed home an alleyoop in the third and never even looked at his hand as he sank a free throw to finish the play.


Spurs: Patty Mills led the Spurs with 24 points and LeMarcus Aldridge had 24 points and 14 rebounds.

76ers: Soccer star Carli Lloyd rang the ceremonial Liberty Bell to start the game. ... Simmons had 26 points and Redick scored 20.


Markelle Fultz, the No. pick of the 2017 draft, appears close to playing again after missing two months with right shoulder soreness. Fultz has played in only four games this season, all as a reserve. He participated in both 4-on-4 half-court drills and light 1-on-1 work this week at practice. Fultz struggled with his mechanics when he did play, and his shooting form was widely mocked around the NBA.

Brown said he had not determined how Fultz would be worked into the rotation when he did return.

"I'm excited because he completely connects the dots to what we don't have," Brown said. "Anybody that can create their own shot, anybody that can create something for somebody else is of extreme value to the collection of what we do. That is his skillset."


Brown was all smiles when he caught up with his good friend and former boss in Popovich. Brown joined the Spurs as a member of their basketball operations department in 1998-99 and was a member of the Spurs organization for all four of their championship seasons (1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007).

"That program is a machine," Brown said.

Popovich said Brown was the right coach for the job and to handle the painful, ongoing rebuild in Philadelphia

"It's the fortitude, the patience that he's exhibited in such a consistent manner in tough circumstances for several years," Popovich said. "I don't know of a coach that I've ever run into that could handle that adversity and stay so positive and continue to teach."

Brown entered Wednesday with a 92-272 (.253) career record in four-plus seasons with the Sixers.


Spurs: Host Phoenix on Friday.

76ers: Host Detroit on Friday.


DALLAS (AP) — Stephen Curry hit a long 3-pointer with three seconds to play, sending the Golden State Warriors to a 125-122 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night.

Curry finished with 32 points as Golden State's "Big Four" combined for 100 points — and the Warriors needed every one of them against a Mavericks team that had won four straight.

Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson had 25 points each, and Draymond Green added 18 to go with 10 rebounds.

Wesley Matthews led the Mavericks with 22 points, including seven 3-pointers, and Dwight Powell tied his career high with 21.

Dallas, playing from behind most of the game, wouldn't go away and erased a 12-point deficit with 4:32 to play, tying the score at 120 on Harrison Barnes' jumper with 39.9 seconds left.

Thompson and Barnes traded inside baskets before the Warriors got the ball back with 12 seconds to go. Curry took the inbounds pass and never gave it up, crossing over his dribble to shake a defender and hitting nothing but net.

A long heave by Dennis Smith Jr. at the buzzer was way off.

The Mavericks, who despite their 13-26 record have won or played close against most of the NBA's best teams, had lost their previous two meetings with the Warriors by a combined 45 points.

This time, Dallas fought back from deficits of 12 in the first half and nine in the third quarter, taking a lead at 84-83 on Devin Harris' 3-pointer with 3:40 to play in the period.

Patrick McCaw's layup just before the buzzer gave Golden State a 91-89 edge entering the fourth, and Green opened the final quarter with a three-point play as the Warriors rebuilt their lead to double digits before the final Mavs rally.

Golden State extended its road winning streak to eight games. The Warriors haven't lost away from Oracle Arena since before Thanksgiving.


Warriors: Played without Andre Iguodala (back and hip strain) and Omri Casspi (back strain). Casspi's injury occurred during shootaround on Wednesday morning. Golden State coach Steve Kerr said Iguodala would likely play Thursday at Houston.

... Thompson's second-quarter 3 marked the 92nd straight game in which he's made at least one, the third-longest streak in NBA history. ... Golden State has won nine in a row and 16 of 17 in the series.

Mavericks: Reserve center Nerlens Noel had his cast removed Tuesday following left thumb surgery on Dec. 8. Noel hasn't played since Nov. 22 and has scored just 72 points in 18 games for the team.


Warriors: At Houston on Thursday in a matchup between the West's top teams. The Rockets beat the Warriors 122-121 on opening night in Oakland.

Mavericks: Host Chicago on Friday. The Mavericks have won four straight against the Bulls.

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