x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Jeremy Lin’s turn as super-sub fuels Rockets

The Houston guard scored 31 off the bench and the Rockets fought off the Toronto Raptors 110-104 in two overtimes on Monday night.

Jeremy Lin's 31 points off the bench ledd all Houston scorers on Monday. Scott Halleran / Getty Images / AFP
Jeremy Lin's 31 points off the bench ledd all Houston scorers on Monday. Scott Halleran / Getty Images / AFP

HOUSTON, Texas // The Houston Rockets were on the verge of their third straight home loss after blowing a double-digit, second-half lead for the second consecutive game.

This time, guard James Harden said, the Rockets found the will to win.

Jeremy Lin scored 31 points off the bench, Dwight Howard had 18 points and 24 rebounds and the Rockets beat the Toronto Raptors 110-104 in double-overtime to snap a two-game losing streak.

“(This game) was something,” Houston coach Kevin McHale said. “We still are a little bit in the mud, but the guys came out defensively and did a really good job. We were grinding. We just found a way to win. That’s just kind of what we had to do.”

Lin shot 10 of 17 from the field and hit 8 of 9 from the free throw line. Harden finished with 26 points and 10 assists.

He was the first player to score 30-plus points off the bench for Houston since Chase Budinger had 30 points against Cleveland on February 23, 2011.

“Midway through the third I was feeling pretty good,” Lin said. “I got in my rhythm. I got a few shots to go down. Everything just kind of slowed down.”

Rudy Gay led the Raptors with 29 points and 10 rebounds but shot 11 of 37 from the field. DeMar DeRozan added 22 points, but he struggled as well, finishing 6 of 25.

Jonas Valanciunas chipped in 10 points and 13 rebounds, Amir Johnson had 10 points and 10 boards and Kyle Lowry netted 16 for Toronto, who shot 33 percent from the field.

“I love the way we fought,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “Anybody that didn’t appreciate that, we had 30 more attempts. How many times have you seen that? We just have to make shots. We only shot 25 percent in the first half, and we got back in the game with our defence.”

After Harden missed a jumper, Howard grabbed a rebound and gave it to Terrence Jones for a layup to give the Rockets a 106-104 lead with 1:13 to go in the second overtime. Gay missed a jumper, and Johnson missed the tip on the other end before Lin hit a floater with 33 seconds left to give the Rockets a four-point lead.

Gay missed another jumper, and after review, Houston was awarded the ball with 26 seconds left. Patrick Beverley made one of two free throws with 20 seconds left, and Gay missed a 3-pointer with 15 seconds remaining. Harden made one of two free throws to push the lead to six and ice the win.

“We lost two at home,” Harden said. “We can’t lose three in a row at home. We are too much of a good team to lose three games. We did whatever it took to pull it out tonight.”

Harden scored seven of the Rockets’ first nine points in the second overtime, but Gay tied it at 104 with a 3-point play with 1:50 to go.

Gay tied the score at 95 in the first overtime, hitting a tough 3-pointer from the top of the arc with 0.9 seconds remaining, and Lin missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game to a second extra period.

“We fought with them obviously through two overtimes, and shots that we usually hit weren’t falling,” Gay said. “You could say fatigue or a lot of different things, but they are a great team, and they played well. I just wish I would’ve hit the easy ones and maybe things would’ve worked out differently.”

Trailing 80-66 after Lin’s layup with 8:32 remaining in the fourth, Toronto knotted the score at 84 six minutes later on Terrence Ross’s follow shot, capping an 18-4 run.

Harden made one of two free throws to tie it at 87 with 34 seconds remaining before Gay missed a jumper with 12 seconds left, but the referees called a 24-second violation, saying the ball never hit the rim.

After review, the ball hit the rim, and the officials jumped it up at midcourt, with the Rockets winning it, but Harden’s jumper at the buzzer was short, sending the game to overtime.

“It was a long, intense game,” Harden said. “I think in the first half we did a great job defending. They only had 33 points at the half, but in the second half, we let up. Gave them confidence early in the second half when they started making shots. We have to battle it out and fight it out.”


Spurs 109, 76ers 85

San Antonio plowed over Philadelphia as Danny Green scored 18 points and point guard Tony Parker added 14 points and nine assists.

It was the fifth consecutive victory for the Spurs (7-1), who rested All-Star center Tim Duncan.

Evan Turner scored 20 points to lead the Sixers (4-4), who lost for the fourth time in five games.

Pacers 95, Grizzlies 79

Paul George scored 23 points, Lance Stephenson had a triple-double, and the Indiana Pacers remained unbeaten with a win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Stephenson’s triple-double was the first of his career. The guard had 13 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds as Indiana improved to 8-0.

Bulls 96, Cavaliers 81

A late 13-2 run allowed the Chicago Bulls to break open a close game and beat the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Six Bulls players scored in double figures, led by forward Carlos Boozer with 17 points, guard Derrick Rose with 16 and forward Mike Dunleavy with 15.

Rose added seven assists for Chicago (3-3), but he left the floor with 3:15 remaining and was limping with an undisclosed injury.

Hawks 103, Bobcats 94

Center Al Horford scored 24 points and the Atlanta Hawks dominated the second half en route to a victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.

The Hawks trailed 54-46 at halftime but outscored the Bobcats 34-16 in the third period to take control and went on to lead by as many as 14 points in the fourth.

Celtics 120, Magic 105

Guard Avery Bradley went 10-for-15 from the floor and led seven players in double figures with 24 points as the suddenly sizzling Boston Celtics roared to their fourth straight victory.

The Celtics, left for dead with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry traded to Brooklyn, Rajon Rondo still recovering from knee surgery and a first-year head coach, started the season with four straight losses but have brought their record to 4-4.

Nuggets 100, Jazz 81

Struggling Denver (2-4) earned their second win by continuing Utah’s season-opening misery, sending the Jazz to an 0-8 start.

Point Guard Ty Lawson led the Nuggets with 17 points and distributed 10 assists while Kenneth Faried scored 15 and collected 13 rebounds.

Gordon Hayward scored 22 in the loss and Derrick Favors has 21 points and 13 rebounds, as the pair combined to outscore the rest of Utah’s line-up, who combined for only 38 points.

Trail Blazers 109, Pistons 103

Portland continued to make a case as one of the surprise quality teams in the NBA as Damian Lillard scored 25 and both LaMarcus Aldridge (18 points, 12 rebounds) and Robin Lopez (17 points, 10 rebounds) picked up double-doubles in a victory over Detroit.

Lillard shot 5-for-8 from three and made all six of his free-throw attempts for the Blazers (5-2). Mo Williams came off the bench to score 17 on 7-of-9 shooting.

Andre Drummond scored 16 with 16 rebounds for the Pistons (2-4).

Clippers 109, Timberwolves 107

Los Angeles clipped Minnesota in a battle between a Western Conference title contender and one of the conference’s popular upstarts.

Blake Griffin’s 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists led the Clippers (5-3). Chris Paul added 21 on 7-of-14 shooting with 11 assists.

Kevin Martin scored 30 for the Timberwolves (5-3), but shot just 9-for-22 from the field. Montenegrin center Nikola Pekovic chipped in 25 points and 10 rebounds.