NBA scores 2014: James Harden, Josh Smith lead Rockets over Grizzlies and 3 other things we learned Friday
James Harden continued his phenomenal season, leading the Rockets to an overtime win in Josh Smith’s debut with the team, plus three other things we learned Friday night.
James Harden knows how to get a bucket. After Vince Carter hit a deep three to give the Memphis Grizzlies a 104-102 lead over the Houston Rockets with 28.7 seconds left in regulation, Harden got a bucket. He cut by Tayshaun Prince and hit a running layup off the glass with 15.5 seconds to play. The Grizzlies couldn’t hit a game-winner, and Houston went on to win 117-111 in overtime.
Harden continued his fantastic season, scoring 30 points, dishing out 10 assists and grabbing eight rebounds for the Rockets, who improved to 21-7. After losses to the Pelicans and Hawks on Dec. 18 and 20, respectively, the Rockets rebounded with wins over two of the West’s best teams: the Trail Blazers on Monday and the Grizzlies on Friday. The Rockets trailed by as many as 14 and were down by seven at the half, but were able to pick up a tough road win thanks to Harden and new addition Josh Smith.
Smith was cut from the Pistons earlier in the week before being signed by Houston just two days ago. In Detroit, he was chastised for taking too many shots and not being a team player. He took the most shots of any Rocket on Friday night, but he was instrumental in the win. Smith had 21 points on 9-for-21 shooting with eight rebounds and with some big plays. With just over a minute to go and the Rockets leading by two, Smith grabbed two offensive boards and drew a foul. He hit the two free throws to extend the lead to four and the Rockets held on to win by six points.
Smith’s former team didn’t miss him too much — the Pistons picked up a 119-109 win over the Pacers — but his first night with the Rockets showed real promise.
The Grizzlies, meanwhile, have lost four in a row after a scintillating 21-4 start to the season. Zach Randolph missed his third straight game and a big night from Marc Gasol wasn’t enough. Gasol had 29 points and eight rebounds for Memphis, who couldn’t hang with Harden and Smith down the stretch.
On a night when Dwight Howard wasn’t the dominant big man he’s capable of being — he had had six points and 11 rebounds — Smith made a difference for the Rockets. And with Harden continuing his MVP-level season, the Rockets continue to be one of the most dangerous teams in the West.
3 other things we learned
The Milwaukee Bucks made a statement against the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks had won five in a row and 14 of 15, but the Bucks ran them off the court in a dominating 30-point win. Jared Dudley shot a perfect 10-for-10 from the floor to lead the bucks with 24 points off the bench, and became the first player in NBA history to make 10 field goals with at least three three-point shots without a miss, per Elias Sports. Milwaukee got 54 points from its bench on a night when the Hawks couldn’t buy a bucket. Kyle Korver, who is having an historic shooting season, was 1-for-8 from the field and 1-for-6 from behind the arc. The Hawks are one of the best teams in the East, but the Bucks are proving to be a threat against anyone in the league.
The Spurs may be in trouble, and Anthony Davis is still doing things that should be impossible. The Pelicans handed the Spurs their sixth loss in seven games and Anthony Davis made Manu Ginobili look foolish:
Davis had 22 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and five blocks for New Orleans, who picked up its second win over the Spurs this season.
LeBron James‘ return to South Florida went much better on the second day. James’ mini homecoming to Miami wasn’t perfect on Christmas day, but he and the Cleveland Cavaliers rebounded from the loss to the Heat with a road win over the Magic. Kyrie Irving was out with a bruised knee and Kevin Love, who had 22 points and seven rebounds, sat out the fourth quarter. With two of the big three out, James took over in the final frame thanks to some trash talk from Tobias Harris. James had 15 points in the fourth … the Magic had only 14. James finished the night with 29 points (including some tough buckets), eight assists and five rebounds, and the Cavaliers continued their up and down season. They’re 18-11 now. Through 29 games in his first season in Miami, the Heat were 21-8.