Harden scores game-high 25 in return for Rockets
Houston were happy to get James Harden back as the star led the Rockets past the Chicago Bulls in the NBA on Saturday.
In two of the three games Harden missed, Houston lost by a combined 39 points. In Harden's return, the visiting Rockets topped the Bulls 96-88 behind the six-time All Star's game-high 25 points. Harden was close to a double-double, finishing with seven assists.
Harden had help from James Ennis III, who scored a season-high 15 points, and Clint Capela, who helped carry the load in Harden's absence. Capela finished the game with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Zach LaVine was the leading scorer for the Bulls. He netted 21 points.
Embiid enormous for 76ers
Joel Embiid led the 76ers to a 10-point victory with another big game. He followed up his 40-plus point performance on Thursday with 39 points against the Pistons on Saturday. Embiid scored 32 of those points in the first half for a new career best through two quarters. He made 10 of his 18 field goals and netted 18 free-throws, and grabbed 17 rebounds – all of which were on defense. He joined Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and Walt Bellamy as the only players in NBA history with seven 30-point, 10-rebound games within their team's first 10 games of a season.
There were a number of good performances in the Heats-Hawks matchup, including Atlanta rookie Trae Young, who scored 24 points and dished out 15 assists. But, the star of the game was actually on the losing squad. In Miami's 123-118 loss, Josh Richardson had a career-high 32 points. He was a perfect six of six from the charity stripe, knocked down six of 10 three-pointers and hit 10 of his 18 field goals.
Cavs crash again
Cleveland were already struggling with Kevin Love, and now without him things seem even bleaker. The Cavs dropped a road game to the Hornets, 126-94, to continue their skid. Only one starter scored in double digits as Sam Dekker recorded 11 points. The team's best players came off the bench – JR Smith finished with 14 points and Jordan Clarkson had 13 – but even their performances were not nearly enough to keep up with Charlotte.
Victor Oladipo scored 24 points in the Pacers' 102-101 win over the Celtics, but none were as important as his game-winning three-pointer.
What is more impressive than this play by Donovan Mitchell? Maybe the fact that he was able to return after being carried off the court. Mitchell suffered what seemed to be a minor ankle injury, but quickly had it re-taped and was ready for action as the Jazz faced the Nuggets.
Philadelphia 76ers 109-99 Detroit Pistons
Charlotte Hornets 126-94 Cleveland Cavaliers
Indiana Pacers 102-101 Boston Celtics
Atlanta Hawks 123-118 Miami Heat
Houston Rockets 96-88 Chicago Bulls
San Antonio Spurs 109-95 New Orleans Pelicans
Denver Nuggets 103-88 Utah Jazz
Los Angeles Lakers 114-110 Portland Trail Blazers
Raptors at Lakers
The Lakers will wrap up a busy weekend on Sunday when they host the Raptors. Los Angeles are coming off a 114-110 win on Saturday, and will continue to build off the new momentum of two close victories. But, it will not be easy since Toronto have been on a hot streak. The Raptors have won two consecutive games behind some impressive performances from Kawhi Leonard. He netted 31 points in the victory over the 76ers on Tuesday and followed that with 19 points in a win against the Suns.