LOS ANGELES: The Atlanta Hawks rallied from a 19-point deficit to snap Houston’s home win streak, and LeBron James received an early birthday gift as the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated Denver on Tuesday night (Wednesday in Manila).
Al Horford and Paul Millsap posted double-doubles and the Hawks rallied to win a Texas-style shootout over the Rockets by a score of 121-115 at Toyota Center in Houston.
Horford finished with 30 points and 14 rebounds while Millsap tallied 22 points and 14 rebounds for the Hawks, who have now won their last four meetings with the Rockets.
Millsap also had a block of Rockets centre Dwight Howard with 11 seconds left on the clock and Atlanta clinging to a 117-115 lead.
“We fought through adversity and got it done,” Horford said.
Hawks forward Kent Bazemore added 26 points on five of nine three-point shooting, while guard Jeff Teague finished with 22 points with eight assists in their final game of 2015.
Atlanta overcame another miserable shooting effort from slumping guard Kyle Korver, who missed all 11 of his field-goal attempts. That included a record of zero-for-10 on three-pointers.
Houston led 47-28 early in the second quarter, 71-56 at the half and 98-88 with 10:32 remaining but scored just one field goal following a Howard dunk with just over eight minutes remaining.
The Hawks ground the Rockets’ offence to a halt by intentionally fouling free throw liability Howard down the stretch as the lead dwindled in the final quarter. Howard made just 10-of-18 free throws Tuesday.
Howard matched Horford with 30 points and added 16 rebounds, while Rockets guard James Harden scored 26 points, grabbed 10 boards and dished out eight assists.
“I think we should have stuck with the same game plan we had in the first half,” Howard said.
King James rolls on
LeBron James, who will celebrate his 31st birthday on Wednesday, scored 34 points and grabbed six rebounds as the Cavaliers defeated the Nuggets 93-87.
“It has been a long roll for me but I got a longer roll to keep going. I got to keep pushing the envelope,” James said. “Hard work pays off and tonight was an example of that.”
Will Barton scored a team high 29 points and Joffrey Lauvergne scored 14 for Denver, who have lost six of their last seven games.
The Cavaliers were playing their fourth game in five nights on this Western Conference road trip. They lost a hard-fought game to Golden State in an NBA finals rematch on Christmas Day before winning the last two.
Thunder outgun Bucks
Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant combined for 53 points and 15 assists to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 131-123 victory over Milwaukee at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Westbrook earned 27 points on 10-of-22 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and seven assists.
Durant collected 26 points, six boards and eight assists, stretching his streak of scoring 20 or more points to 18 games.
Centre Enes Kanter came off the bench to tally 23 points and eight rebounds. Guard Cameron Payne added 16 points to help Oklahoma City improve to 22-10.
Bucks guard Khris Middleton led all scorers with 36 points on 13-of-22 shooting. Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo tallied 27 points and 10 rebounds. Guard Michael Carter-Williams scored 19 points as the Bucks dropped to 12-21.
Gasol cools off Heat in OT
Centre Marc Gasol scored a game-high 23 points, seven of them in overtime, as the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Miami Heat 99-90 at the FedEx Forum in Memphis.
With the score tied 83-83 at the end of regulation, Memphis jumped out to an 89-83 advantage in overtime and the Heat never got closer than three points. Gasol also had eight rebounds, six assists and four blocks.