The Houston Rockets' win streak came to an end on Wednesday night despite a masterful James Harden performance, and Friday night was no different in Houston. Harden put up 51 points for a second straight game, and a second straight loss, as the Rockets fell to the Los Angeles Clippers 128-118. Austin Rivers' career-high 36 points and six three-pointers led the Clippers to just barely out-shoot the Rockets on the night. Rivers went off after halftime with 30 points in the final 24 minutes, helping the Clippers hand the Rockets consecutive losses for the second time this season, and first since October 28th and 30th. Lou Williams came off the bench to haunt his former team for the Clippers with 32 points, including four three-pointers in the decisive fourth quarter. Harden's big time performance was his third 50-point game, as he became the first player in franchise history with consecutive 50-point games. He's the first to do so in the NBA since Kobe Bryant did it with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2007. Chris Paul did have to sit this one out due to a groin injury, as it was the first meeting between the Clippers and Rockets since CP3 came over to Houston from L.A.
Warriors Beat Lakers Again, Extend Win Streak
The Golden State Warriors got the best of the Los Angeles Lakers for the second time in a week on Friday with a 113-106 win at home. The Warriors got past the Lakers in overtime at the Staples Center a week prior, as Kevin Durant led the way once again with 33 points. Durant had the game-winning shot in the final seconds of overtime in L.A., and added seven rebounds, seven assists, and four blocks in the Warriors' 11th straight win. The victory, combined with the Rockets' loss, puts the Warriors back atop the Western Conference. Jordan Bell also stepped up for the defending champs with his first career double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds, including a big basket with under three minutes to play in regulation. Klay Thompson chipped in 16 points, while Draymond Green returned with 13 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists. Kyle Kuzma stayed hot for the Lakers in a losing effort with 27 points, while Lonzo Ball impressed with 24 points and five three-pointers on the night. The Lakers were coming off a streak-snapping upset win in Houston against the Rockets, but could not pull of another upset despite Julius Randle adding 21 points on the night. They will return home on Christmas Day to host the Minnesota Timberwolves, while the Warriors stay home for a Finals rematch with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Nova, Arizona State Stay Perfect
Two of the top three teams in college basketball were in action on Friday night, with both teams staying perfect on the season, First, top-ranked Villanova cruised past Hofstra for a 95-71 win, moving to 12-0 on the year. Mikal Bridges had 20 points, as the Wildcats finished with five players in double figures in the win. The others included Omari Spellman with 19 points, Phil Booth with 17, Donte DiVincenzo with 16, and Jalen Brunson added 14 points. It was the fifth time this season that Nova has scored at least 90 points in a game, including a 113-point effort in a win over Nicholls State on November 14th. Justin Wright-Freeman had 25 points in the Pride's fifth loss of the season. The more surprising team is No. 3 Arizona State, who improved to 12-0 with a 104-65 blowout of Pacific. Shannon Evans II had 20 points, while Tra Holder contributed 19, as the Sun Devils now sit at 8-0 on their home floor. The 12-0 start extends their best in school history, as they overcame recent slow starts to lead by 16 at halftime. They got much-needed contribution off the bench from Remy Martin, who had 14 points and six assists. The Sun Devils finished at 54 percent from the floor, including 12-of-26 from beyond the arc to power their offense. Miles Reynolds and Jack Williams had 13 points apiece for Pacific, who dropped to 5-8 on the season.