NBA wrap: Rockets top Warriors without James Harden

The Warriors are still considered the favorites to win the NBA Finals, but fell short to the Rockets on Saturday 118-112.

To make matters worse, Houston star guard James Harden didn’t play in the contest. Harden, the NBA’s leading scorer, sat out with a neck injury. But Chris Paul and his supporting cast were more than enough for the defending champs.

Paul recorded 23 points and 17 assists on the night. Eric Gordon and Kenneth Faried chipped in 25 and 20 points respectively. Faried, P.J. Tucker and Clint Capela all reached double digits in rebounding and helped the Rockets narrowly win the battle on the glass.

Kevin Durant’s 29 points on 11-of-19 shooting paced the Warriors. Stephen Curry was right behind him with 25 on five made 3-pointers.

The Rockets and Warriors have now both lost two of their last three games. But Houston is looking to climb a few spots from the fifth seed.

Studs of the Night

D’Angelo Russell’s 40-point performance lifted Brooklyn past Charlotte 117-115.

Russell Westbrook totaled 41 points and 10 assists against the Kings, but the Thunder lost 119-116.

Lauri Markkanen recorded 35 points and 15 rebounds to help his Bulls upset the Celtics 126-116. Zach LaVine had 42 in the game as well.

Duds of the Night

Dario Saric scored seven points on 2-of-11 shooting in Minnesota’s 140-128 loss to Milwaukee.

Jordan Clarkson scored five points on 2-of-10 shooting as the Cavaliers took down the Grizzlies 112-107.

Highlights

Bradley Beal shook Wesley Matthews on the right wing and sank this 3-pointer while getting fouled, but the Wizards lost to the Pacers 119-112.

Jrue Holiday’s rainbow buzzer beater in the third quarter helped the Pelicans extend their lead and claim a 128-115 victory over the Lakers.

What’s Next?

Clippers (33-27) at Nuggets (40-18) — Despite recently freeing up two max slots, Los Angeles has made it known that it still has playoff aspirations this season. Denver is second in the Western Conference, just behind Golden State. The Nuggets should prove to be a good test for the eighth place Clippers.