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Warriors edge Rockets 99-98 to take 2-0 series lead

James Harden had Game 2 on his fingertips - and then he didn’t.

Now the Golden State Warriors have the Western Conference finals in their grasp.

Stephen Curry scored 33 points before Harden lost the ball in the closing seconds, and the Warriors held off the Houston Rockets 99-98 on Thursday night to take a 2-0 lead in the series.

Harden rallied the Rockets from 17 points down in the second quarter and had a chance to finish off the comeback in the fourth. Instead, Klay Thompson harassed him and Curry came over to trap Harden, who lost the ball as time expired…

Harden had 38 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, and Dwight Howard overcame a sprained left knee that slowed him down to finish with 19 points and 17 rebounds for a Rockets team headed home in a major hole.

– Associated Press

Rockets complete comeback, eliminate Clippers in seven games

James Harden scored 31 points, Dwight Howard had 16 points and 15 rebounds and the Houston Rockets never trailed in a 113-100 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, sending them to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 1997.

It’s the ninth time in NBA history that a team has overcome a 3-1 series deficit to win a playoff series.

The Rockets needed an epic comeback to overcome a 19-point third-quarter deficit and force Game 7. No such heroics were needed Sunday when they were up by 17 after three and Howard opened the fourth quarter with a 3-point play to push it to 88-68.

Blake Griffin scored five points in a 9-0 run to cut the lead to eight points with less than 2 1/2 minutes remaining. Harden made a pair of free throws after that, but a dunk by DeAndre Jordan got the Clippers within eight again. This time Trevor Ariza hit a 3 from the corner to secure the victory.

– Associated Press

James Harden trying to shake off effects of flu

The Houston Rockets face elimination tonight in Game 6 unless they can step up and once again beat the Los Angeles Clippers. Rockets star James Harden, who is averaging 24.8 points, 6.0 assists and 9.2 assists per game in this second round series through five games, is shaking off the effects of the flu. Here’s ESPN.com reporting:

James Harden trying to shake off effects of flu

James Harden was coughing and trying to clear his throat during his chat with reporters on Thursday morning.

The Houston Rockets’ starting guard will play in Thursday’s critical Game 6 against the Los Angeles Clippers while still feeling the effects of the flu.

“I’m all right, I’m good,” said Harden, who played through the illness and needed IV fluids the morning of Game 5 on Tuesday. “I’m all right, I’m in a good place right now.”

His team isn’t.

The Rockets trail the Western Conference semifinal best-of-seven series 3-2, and to force a Game 7 at home, they must win in a place where they have played badly.

The Clippers lead the Rockets 3 games to 2 in their second round playoff series. Tonight’s Game 6, in Los Angeles, is must-win for Houston. Here’s the Houston Chronicle reporting:

Josh Smith will start Rockets-Clippers Game 6

Rockets coach Kevin McHale said he would start forward Josh Smith again in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals on Thursday night in Los Angeles.

Smith started in Game 5 and forward Terrence Jones came off the bench.

“We just tried to change some things up, tried to get (Jones) with that second unit, maybe get him some more looks, get him going,” McHale said. “Josh is a very good passer. We gotta use another guy out there to break them down.”

NBA fines Dwight Howard $15K

Dwight Howard fined for hard foul on Matt Barnes

NBA fines Dwight Howard $15K

The NBA announced today that they have fined Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard $15,000 for making contact above the shoulders with Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes in Rockets-Clippers Game 4 on May 10.

Howard’s actions occurred with 9:21 remaining in the first quarter of the Clippers’ 128-95 win over the Rockets on May 10 at Staples Center.

The Clippers currently lead their second round series with the Rockets three games to one.

Tyson Chandler denies throwing a punch at Dwight Howard

Here’s the Houston Chronicle clearing up something you may have heard about but probably didn’t because it didn’t actually happen. Not the Chronicle’s fault. They’re simply clarifying what’s up. Here is the report:

Tyson Chandler denies throwing a punch at Dwight Howard

Dallas center Tyson Chandler said he had no idea there were rumors that he might face suspension for an altercation between he and Rockets center Dwight Howard in Game 4 on Sunday.

On Monday, a video of a play where Chandler and Howard were tangled up and both called for technical fouls floated around social media. In some angles, it looked like Chandler might have thrown a punch, which according to NBA rules would have left him with a one-game suspension.

Chandler said he hadn’t heard any of that speculation until shoot around before Game 5 on Tuesday.

“That is the first time I heard that,” Chandler said. “I didn’t throw any punches. I wouldn’t throw a punch at Dwight.”

Jason Terry fined for flopping vs Mavs

Jason Terry fined for flopping vs Mavs

Jason Terry fined for flopping vs Mavs

Houston Rockets guard Jason Terry has been fined $5,000 by the NBA for violating the league’s anti-flopping rules during Game 2 of Houston’s first-round playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks.

The incident occurred with 6:25 remaining in the third quarter of Rockets’ 111-99 victory over the Mavericks last night at Toyota Center.

To view the play, click on this link.

Former AAU teammates now together in playoffs for Rockets

It’s cool when buddies from your childhood are in your life years later. Especially when they’re your teammate on a really good NBA playoff team. Here’s ESPN Houston reporting:

As kids growing up in Atlanta, they played on the same AAU team, just having a good time and dreaming about the big time: playing in the NBA.

Josh Smith’s dad, Pete, picked the kids up and directed them on basketball. Dwight Howard, a close friend of Josh’s, would ride along and have a good time talking about the future.

“I looked at a picture of me and him in high school that we took together playing AAU basketball,” Howard said Tuesday morning. “It’s crazy that we’re actually competing, hoping for a chance at an NBA title. It’s amazing and we’re blessed that we have an excellent opportunity in front of us and we have to take advantage of it.”

Tuesday night, that future turned into the present as Howard and Smith dominated the second half of a sloppy first-round playoff game at the Toyota Center.

During the middle of the noise and the good times, Smith and Howard gave each other a shoulder bump, just like old times. At the end of the evening, the Houston Rockets took control of this series against the turmoil-plagued Dallas Mavericks with a 111-99 victory to take a 2-0 series lead.

Howard happily gets to focus on the upcoming playoffs

Here’s the Houston Chronicle reporting on Rockets center Dwight Howard, who will fortunately get to focus on the upcoming NBA playoffs instead of off-court issues:

Atlanta (Ga.) Police will not press charges of child abuse against Rockets center Dwight Howard, according to Atlanta Police spokesman Sgt. Gregory Lyon.

“We have investigated this case and are not moving forward with charges,” Lyon said via email.

The mother of one of Howard’s children had alleged that Howard had caused bruises on their then six-year-old son. The case was originally investigated by the Florida Department of Children and Families, but no charges were brought.

Dwight Howard hopes to play 20 NBA seasons

Here’s the Houston Chronicle reporting on center Dwight Howard, who hope to put two decades of NBA work in before he hangs up his sneakers and Superman cape.

Dwight Howard hopes to play 20 NBA seasons

Dwight Howard said he hopes he can have a career as long as the one his Wednesday night opponent — Tim Duncan — has had in San Antonio.

Duncan, 38, has played 17 years in the NBA and is still starting for the Spurs and is considered to be one of the best big men in the league.

“That’s always been my goal- to play 20 years in the league so I think it can be done,” said Howard, who is in his 11th NBA season. “It would be great. Tim (Duncan) is still playing great basketball. He has migrated to different spots on the floor instead of just the post.”

James Harden not focused on NBA scoring title

James Harden not focused on scoring title

Here’s the Houston Chronicle reporting on Rockets guard James Harden, with stats through Tuesday’s games and not including Wednesday’s results:

With Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook scoring just 17 points on Tuesday, Rockets guard James Harden’s lead for the NBA scoring title grew to two-tenths of a point, the largest margin since Harden regained the scoring lead last week.

Harden is averaging 27.7 going into tonight’s game vs. San Antonio. Westbrook is at 27.5.

Harden did not know. He did not want to know, and his friends, family and teammates know not to tell him.

“I don’t want to hear it,” Harden said. “I don’t want to hear. I think the most important thing right now is winning. I’ve said it plenty of times, just winning and getting in a rhythm going into the postseason.

Brook Lopez, James Harden named NBA Players of Week through April 5

brook lopez

Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez and Houston Rockets guard James Harden today were named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, March 30, through Sunday, April 5.

Lopez led the Nets to a 3-1 week behind team-leading averages of 20.8 points (sixth in the conference), 10.3 rebounds (fourth in the conference) and 2.0 blocks (tied-fifth in the conference). Lopez shot better than 50 percent in all four contests, and ranked seventh in the East for the week with a field goal percentage of 59.4. He recorded two point-rebound double-doubles, including a 30-point, 17-rebound outing during a 114-109 win over the Toronto Raptors on April 3.

james harden

Harden helped the Rockets to a 3-1 week behind a league-leading 36.8 points. He scored 40-plus twice, raising his league-leading total of 40-point games this season to 10. Harden recorded his second 50-point game of the season when he netted a career-high 51 during a 115-111 win over the Sacramento Kings on April 1.

Other nominees for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Atlanta’s DeMarre Carroll, Brooklyn’s Deron Williams, Cleveland’s LeBron James, the Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan, San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan and Washington’s John Wall.

Dwight Howard participates in some of Rockets practice

Here’s the Houston Chronicle reporting on the Rockets, who will be happy to welcome Dwight Howard back when he’s ready to return, even if they’ve shown a terrific ability to play and win without him:

Dwight Howard participates in some of Rockets practice

Rockets center Dwight Howard was able to go through a lot of practice with the team on Monday, said coach Kevin McHale.

There is still no date set for Howard’s return but he is getting closer, after being out the last 22 games with edema in his knee.

“We didn’t have a really hard practice, but he was able to do some things and he looked good,” McHale said.

James Harden suspended for kicking LeBron James

James Harden suspended for kicking LeBron James

Houston Rockets guard James Harden has been suspended one game without pay for kicking Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James in the groin, it was announced today by Rod Thorn, President, Basketball Operations.

The incident occurred with 2:08 remaining in the third quarter of the Rockets’ 105-103 overtime victory against the Cavaliers at Toyota Center on March 1. Harden was assessed a Flagrant Foul 1 for the incident, and it has been upgraded to a Flagrant Foul 2 upon league office review.

Harden will serve his suspension tomorrow when the Rockets travel to Atlanta to play the Hawks.

To view the play, click on this link.

Nets fall short vs Rockets

Nets fall short vs Rockets

Here’s the New York Post with an update on the Brooklyn Nets, whose despite tonight’s loss should be proud of the basketball they’ve played lately:

The Nets are only a few possessions away from being 4-0 since the All-Star break. But when you’re playing on the road in the Western Conference, it only takes a couple of possessions to separate wins and losses, and that’s why the Nets find themselves 2-2 since the break after falling 102-98 to the Rockets at Toyota Center on Friday night.

The combination of the Nets, Hornets and Pistons losing and the Celtics and Pacers winning means five teams — the Pacers, who are eighth, the Nets, Hornets and Celtics, who are tied for ninth, and the Pistons, who are 12th — are within a game of one another for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Nets (23-33) led for the vast majority of the game and had the ball with a 95-90 lead and just more than two minutes remaining.

Rockets add Pablo Prigioni and KJ McDaniels

The 36-17 Houston Rockets don’t need a ton of help, and as the NBA trade deadline passed they came away with a few new additions that should help their bench a bit. Here’s the Houston Chronicle blog reporting:

Hoping to swing for the fences, the Rockets settled for a few trade deadline cuts they hope will become solid singles.

The Rockets did not come close to reaching the Suns’ asking price for guard Goran Dragic, backing away when it was clear they could not keep the free agent to be after the season. Instead, while several Western Conference playoff teams loaded up, the Rockets made smaller moves to pick up Knicks veteran point guard Pablo Prigioni and 76ers rookie small forward/shooting guard KJ McDaniels.

Neither is certain to move immediately into the Rockets’ rotation, though Prigioni offers a different style of point guard behind Pat Beverley than Jason Terry while still a catch-and-shoot threat. With Corey Brewer getting most of the small forward and shooting guard minutes off the bench, McDaniels is likely to serve an apprenticeship, with potential to fill the role if Brewer leaves as a free agent and the Rockets sign McDaniels.

For now, the Rockets settled for players they like, even if they do not have a clear role to play. To get Prigioni, the Rockets sent guard Alexey Shved and the Rockets’ second-round picks in 2017 and 2019 to New York.

New York Knicks President Phil Jackson announced today that the team has acquired guard Alexey Shved and second round draft picks in 2017 and 2019 from the Houston Rockets in exchange for guard Pablo Prigioni.

Shved, 6-6, 190-pounds, averaged 7.6 points and 1.9 assists over 13.2 minutes in 26 games with Philadelphia and Houston this season. He holds career averages of 6.7 points and 2.4 assists over 17.2 minutes in 166 games over three seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves, 76ers and Rockets. The Belgorod, Russia-native originally signed with Minnesota on Jul. 25, 2012 after playing six seasons professionally in Russia.

Prigioni, 6-3, 185-pounds, averaged 4.7 points and 2.4 assists over 18.5 minutes in 43 games this season. He originally signed with the Knicks as a free agent on Jul. 24, 2012 and averaged 3.9 points and 3.0 assists over 17.9 minutes in 187 career games, over three seasons, with the team.

Patrick Beverley replaces John Wall in 2015 Skills Challenge

Patrick Beverley replaces John Wall in 2015 Skills Challenge

Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley will replace Washington Wizards guard John Wall in the 2015 Skills Challenge during All-Star Saturday Night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Feb. 14.

As far as we know, Wall hasn’t suffered a new injury. He likely just feels he can use the extra rest and has chosen to not participate. We’ll update this info if it changes, but it probably won’t.

Beverley, in his third NBA season with the Rockets, is averaging 10.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 39 games. A second-round pick of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009, Beverley signed with Houston in January 2013 after four-plus seasons playing overseas. He was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team in 2013-14.

The Chicago Bulls’ Jimmy Butler, the Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry and the Atlanta Hawks’ Jeff Teague, all selected to play in the 2015 NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 15, at Madison Square Garden, headline the Skills Challenge field. Defending champion Trey Burke of the Utah Jazz, the Philadelphia 76ers’ Michael Carter-Williams, the Milwaukee Bucks’ Brandon Knight and the Phoenix Suns’ Isaiah Thomas will also compete in the three-round, obstacle-course competition that tests dribbling, passing, agility and shooting skills.

The 33-15 Houston Rockets face a troubling injury situation, according to this ESPN.com report:

Dwight Howard knee issue may keep him out for extended period

The Houston Rockets are bracing for the loss of Dwight Howard for at least a month due to persistent trouble with his right knee, according to league sources.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Rockets, while confident that Howard ‎has enough time to bounce back for the regular-season stretch run and playoffs, fear their defensive anchor will be lost for a period of “weeks” as opposed to days.

Howard is still in the process of getting additional consultation from various doctors to determine the best treatment course for the knee.

Kevin Garnett suspended for headbutting Dwight Howard

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Garnett has been suspended one game without pay for initiating an altercation with Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard and headbutting him. Howard was fined $15,000 for pushing Garnett in the neck area. The penalties were announced today by Rod Thorn, President, Basketball Operations.

The incident occurred with 7:53 remaining in the first quarter of the Rockets’ 113-99 win over the Nets on Monday, Jan. 12, at Barclays Center.

Garnett will serve his suspension on Wednesday, Jan. 14, when the Nets host the Memphis Grizzlies at Barclays Center.

To view the play, click on this link.

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