Harden extends streak, Rockets lose cool in loss to Lakers

Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) moves the ball against Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (1) during the first half at Staples Center. (Reuters pic)

LOS ANGELES: James Harden passed Wilt Chamberlain for the second longest 30-point-plus streak in NBA history, but the Houston star fouled out in the fourth quarter and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Houston Rockets 111-106 on Thursday.

Harden has now scored 30 points or more in 32 consecutive games but his early exit was followed moments later by Chris Paul’s sixth foul of the game as the Rockets imploded down the stretch to hand the Lakers the win.

Chamberlain previously had the second longest streak at 31 games and also holds the outright record with a streak of 65 30-point-plus games.

LeBron James scored 29 points, Brandon Ingram added 27 as Los Angeles rallied from a 19-point deficit midway through the third quarter in front of a crowd of 18,900 at Staples Center.

The Lakers trailed for most of the game and were down 95-88 with 7:49 remaining when they went on a 17-4 run over a six-minute span.

The Rockets lead the league in three-point attempts and live and die by the long ball. They struggled mightily to make a three-pointer in the fourth and then — to lose their two top offensive weapons down the stretch — was just too much to overcome.

Houston also lost their cool. At one point both Paul and coach Mike D’Antoni were slapped with technical fouls and by the time the Lakers finished shooting their free throws they had stretched the lead to 109-101 in the final minute.

It was Los Angeles’ sixth comeback victory this season when trailing by 15 or more at any point.

“We did a heck of a job rebounding and that allowed us to win the game even with the turnovers we had,” said coach Luke Walton of the Lakers, who had 18 turnovers compared to 14 for Houston.

Harden led Houston with 30 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists before fouling out with 1:24 remaining. Paul added 23 points before fouling out.

Harden is in the running to win the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award for a second straight season.

The Rockets slammed the officiating of Scott Foster after the game, saying he has a personal grudge against them.

“I don’t know what else to do. I’ve met with the league with him before. I don’t know what else to do,” Paul said.

Harden went further and said Foster should not be working their games anymore.

“For sure it’s personal, for sure,” Harden added. “I don’t think he should be able to even officiate our games anymore, honestly.”