Rockets Beat Mavs Without Harden, Clinch Playoff Spot

Rockets Beat Mavs Without Harden, Clinch Playoff Spot

Jusuf Nurkic added 27 points and 16 rebounds for the Blazers, who have the longest current winning streak in the National Basketball Association and a two-game lead over Oklahoma City for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.

Despite James Harden being sidelined with left knee soreness, the Rockets had no trouble with Dallas Mavericks, winning Sunday night at the American Airlines Center 105-82.

The teams traded buckets for the first two minutes of the third quarter, but with the Rockets leading 56-54, Eric Gordon knocked down a 3-pointer to push the Rockets lead to five, starting a 14-3 Rockets run to push the lead to double digits, where it remained the rest of the night.

The slumping San Antonio Spurs lost 109-93 to the high-flying Houston Rockets in the National Basketball Association on Monday.

Despite his slow start, the Rockets had a comfortable lead in the third and were still up by 13 after a basket by San Antonio's Dejounte Murray with about eight minutes left in the quarter. Houston has been hamstrung by injuries for lengthy stretches this season, but like they did in Dallas, the Rockets have mastered performing short-handed.

Harden was backed by 18 points from point guard Chris Paul, who had nine assists and three rebounds. "We just don't do that. We just played really good basketball".

"I'd much rather have the No. 1 seed", Gordon said.

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San Antonio have not missed the National Basketball Association postseason since 1997, coincidentally the same year Gregg Popovich was named head coach.

The Spurs will enter Monday just one-half game ahead of a three-way tie for eighth, with the Los Angeles Clippers (36-29) now holding the tiebreaker over the Denver Nuggets and the Utah Jazz (both 37-30). Houston's effective field goal percentage was their biggest strength over Dallas.

Not having Kawhi Leonard available all year has clearly hampered the Spurs but there are reports he could return to action on Thursday against the New Orleans Pelicans.

It's understandable that a potential playoff series with Gregg Popovich's Spurs isn't a favorite subject of discussion for D'Antoni. "I'm glad they're reporting that".

The best record in the National Basketball Association might earn the Rockets a first-round date with a significantly upgraded version of the Spurs, whose struggles without their superstar small forward Kawhi Leonard have put their playoff hopes in serious jeopardy.

The Rockets took advantage of the Spurs' absences, holding an opponent under 50 points in the first half for a sixth time in eight games.

After so many campaigns of incredible success, the Spurs appear vulnerable.

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