James Harden and Chris Paul combined for 37 points as the Houston Rockets snapped a four-game losing streak by clobbering the rebuilding San Antonio Spurs 136-105 on Friday.
Harden delivered 23 points and 10 assists while Paul put up 14 points and 10 assists for the Rockets, who won the battle of the struggling Lone Star State teams.
“We’re a confident group when we have all of our players. When we’ve got a healthy roster, we can compete with anybody in the league,” Harden said.
Houston’s Clint Capela led all scorers with 27 points, as the Rockets handed the Spurs their second straight lopsided defeat – San Antonio lost 128-89 to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.
The Rockets and Spurs are two former NBA juggernauts who few would have guessed would both be under .500 at this point in the 2018-19 season.
Houston (10-11) have made some key adjustments to their lineup through the first quarter of the season, and Paul’s return after missing three games with a hamstring injury also helped them get back on track Friday.
The Rockets built a large enough lead that they were able to sit their starters for most of the final quarter.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 20 points and DeMar DeRozan added 18 for the Spurs, who have dropped to 10-12 on the season.
The numbers are not good – the Spurs allowed their biggest point total in a half this season and matched the most points they have allowed in the third quarter.
The Rockets scored 70 points in the first half and added 40 points in the third quarter. Houston finished 22 for 54 on three-pointers.
“It sucks to go out there and get embarrassed like that (back to back),” said DeRozan.
It’s been a tough season so far for San Antonio, who traded away Kawhi Leonard in the spring, saw veteran point guard Tony Parker leave for Charlotte, and then dealt with the retirement of heart-and-soul player Manu Ginobili.
“We’re obviously discombobulated on offense,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
“A lot of that has to do with me, so I’ve got to do a better job there. I think defensively we’ve obviously got to shore up our effort and our wisdom at that end of the court. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
LeBron leads Lakers
Elsewhere, LeBron James scored 28 points and Tyson Chandler added 13 points as the Los Angeles Lakers snapped the Dallas Mavericks’ three-game winning streak with a 114-103 victory.
“I just locked into the game plan and tried to get some easy shots in,” said Chandler.
Brandon Ingram tallied 19 points and Kyle Kuzma finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds as the Lakers – who trailed for most of the first three quarters – improved to 13-9 on the season.
In New York, Memphis point guard Mike Conley scored 13 of his team’s 14 points in double overtime to lead the Grizzlies past the Brooklyn Nets, 131-125.
In the second extra session, Conley shot three-for-three from the field and made all seven of his free throws – he finished the game with 37 points and 10 rebounds.
Grizzlies rookie Jaren Jackson scored a career-high 36 points for Memphis, who snapped a three-game losing streak.
DeMarre Carroll had 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Nets, whose losing streak hit five games.
Elsewhere, Russell Westbrook flirted with a triple double by delivering 23 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Atlanta Hawks, 124-109.