LOS ANGELES: Stephen Curry scored 32 points as the Golden State Warriors withstood Houston star James Harden’s 20th triple-double of the season in a 113-106 NBA victory over the Rockets on Tuesday.
The league-leading Warriors stretched their winning streak to eight games, thwarting the Rockets’ comeback bid and sending fans in Houston home unhappy.
Curry drained a three-pointer with 1:46 remaining as the Warriors stretched their lead back to double digits after seeing it dwindle.
Draymond Green scored 19 points, pulled down nine rebounds and came up with three steals in a characteristically energetic performance for the Warriors, clamping down defensively as the Rockets sought to close the gap down the stretch.
Klay Thompson added 25 points for the Warriors, who improved to 60-14 and will host the 41-23 Rockets—third in the West behind Golden State and San Antonio—on Friday.
Harden finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists. But he connected on just five of 20 shots from the field and was one-of-nine from three-point range. He also coughed up six turnovers as the Warriors came up big defensively — limiting one of the league’s most explosive offenses to just 38.8 percent shooting.
“It’s attention to detail, knowing where their shooters are, especially in transition,” Curry said. “We do a great job of trying to stay on a string so when two guys commit to the ball and there’s a pass out to the wing, the next guy is on alert ready to rotate, kind of a chain reaction. Try to make them uncomfortable and contest as many (three-pointers) as you can.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr notched his 200th victory, reaching the milestone faster than any coach in league history —in 238 games.
Whiteside hero for heat
While the Warriors were strengthening their grip on the West, the Miami Heat clung to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a 97-96 victory over the Pistons in Detroit.
Hassan Whiteside’s tip-in beat the buzzer after a wild scramble during which the Heat missed two attempts on their final possession.
Whiteside, who needed 13 stitches in a cut on his right hand last week, managed to maneuver the ball to his left and get it in the basket just in time.
“We’re mentally tough,” Whiteside said. “We’ve been in so many close battles like this.”
They are one game ahead of the Chicago Bulls for the last playoff spot in the East, while the Pistons slipped 2 1/2 games behind the Heat.
The Milwaukee Bucks bounced back from a 15-point home defeat to the Bulls on Sunday with a convincing 118-108 victory over the Hornets in Charlotte.
The Bucks connected on 72.5 percent of their shots in the first half as they built a 22-point halftime lead.
They stretched their advantage to as many as 26 in the second half.
“I thought the guys came in with the right mindset to be aggressive on the road, knowing what was at stake,” said Bucks coach Jason Kidd, whose team are jockeying for fifth place in the East with the Atlanta Hawks and Indiana Pacers.
The Hawks snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 95-91 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday while the Pacers endured a tough 115-114 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Minnesota guard Ricky Rubio sank three free throws with 3.4 seconds left to give the Timberwolves the victory.
The Washington Wizards, already playoff-bound, defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 119-108 to clinch the Southeast Division title — their first division crown since the 1978-79 season.
The division title has no bearing on playoff seeding. The Wizards are two games behind the Boston Celtics and 1 1/2 games behind the reigning champion Cleveland Cavaliers for the top spot in the East.