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Harden leads Rockets over Spurs, Nuggets hold off Thunder

James Harden scored 28 points and dished out 11 assists as the Houston Rockets handed the San Antonio Spurs a rare home defeat, 102-91, on February 1, 2018 © GETTY/AFP/File / Rob Carr

LOS ANGELES, United States, Feb 2James Harden scored 28 points and dished out 11 assists Thursday as the Houston Rockets handed the San Antonio Spurs a rare home NBA defeat, 102-91.

Harden showed no sign of a let-down after his historic 60-point triple-double on Tuesday, producing seven points in the final two minutes as the Rockets thwarted a Spurs rally to notch their second win this season over San Antonio.

Down by double-digits much of the contest, the Spurs pulled within 92-85 with 2:49 remaining with the aid of a hook shot from LaMarcus Aldridge and a three-pointer from Bryn Forbes.

The Rockets responded with a three-pointer form Harden, followed by his four-point play with 1:36 left.

“They’re great in this building,” Harden said of a Spurs team that endured just their fifth home defeat of the season. “We knew they were going to make a run. We held our composure, made some big shots, got some defensive stops when we needed to and that was the game right there.”

Gerald Green added 15 points for Houston. Clint Capela chipped in 14, Ryan Anderson scored 13 and Chris Paul and P.J. Tucker scored 10 apiece for Houston, who led 54-38 at halftime.

– Griffin shines for Pistons –

Blake Griffin of the Detroit Pistons reacts to a late 4th quarter call during their game against the Memphis Grizzlies, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan, on February 1, 2018 © GETTY/AFP / Leon Halip

In Detroit, Blake Griffin produced a double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds in his debut for the Pistons, who held off the Memphis Grizzlies 104-102.

Griffin, who admitted he was shocked to be traded by the Los Angeles Clippers this week, got a warm welcome from the Detroit crowd in pre-game introductions.

He delivered the pass to Anthony Tolliver for a three-pointer that gave Detroit a 101-100 lead with 1:49 to play.

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Two free-throws from Tolliver stretched the Pistons lead to 103-100 with six seconds left and Reggie Bullock sealed with a final free-throw.

Andre Drummond, who promises to form a formidable front-court duo with Griffin, finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds for the Pistons, who are ninth in the East and hoping the arrival of five-time All-Star Griffin can help propel them into playoff position.

“It was great to get a win,” said Griffin, adding that things will only improve as he gets more familiar with his new teammates.

“We came in off of one shoot around,” he noted. “We’ll keep getting better from here.”

Gary Harris was the hero in Denver, draining a three-pointer at the buzzer to lift the Nuggets to a 127-124 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Denver led by as many as 20, and by 17 in the fourth quarter before the Thunder mounted a furious comeback, knotting the score at 124-124 on Paul George’s three-pointer with 5.6 seconds to play.

Denver responded as Nikola Jokic fired an inbound pass to Harris in time for him to make the game-winner.

Jokic notched his third triple-double of the season with 29 points, 14 assists and 13 rebounds.

Jamal Murray scored 33 points for Denver and Harris added 25 as the Nuggets shook off narrow defeats to Boston and San Antonio earlier in the week. They face the Golden State Warriors on Saturday.

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George scored 43 points for the Thunder and Russell Westbrook added 20 points with 21 assists and nine rebounds.

Immediately after the tense end to the game, Westbrook shoved a fan who had made his way onto the still-crowded court and begun shouting at him. The two were quickly separated.

The Minnesota Timberwolves won their 11th straight home game in Minneapolis — where those in attendance included New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick — taking a brief break before his team goes for a Super Bowl title against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

Jimmy Butler scored 28 points, rallying after missing four of his first five shots, and teammate Karl-Anthony Towns added a double-double of 24 points and 11 rebounds as the T’Wolves beat the Milwaukee Bucks 108-89.

Washington’s Bradley Beal scored 25 of his 27 points in the second half as the Wizards defeated the Toronto Raptors 122-119.

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