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Harden stars again as Houston notch 14th straight win

Los Angeles, Thursday @Peoplesports11 The NBA-leading Houston Rockets capped a perfect February with a 105-92 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday to stretch their winning streak to 14 games.

The Rockets, led by 25 points from James Harden, finished February 12-0 and with their second 14-game win streak of the season became just the sixth team in league history to post multiple streaks of at least 14 wins in the same campaign.

“Extremely important,” Harden said of the victory over the Clippers, potential early play-off opponents who had beaten the Rockets twice this season. The victory kept the Rockets atop the Western Conference, leading the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors who beat the Wizards 109-101 in Washington. The Rockets led by as many as 27 points.

Harden delivered the game’s signature moment in the opening quarter when he wrong-footed Wesley Johnson with a quick cross-over dribble, Johnson falling backwards to the court and receiving a long stare from Harden before the Rockets star drained a three-pointer over him.

Harden wasn’t on the floor for the Rockets’ January 15 loss to the Clippers, when on-court clashes spilled over and a couple of Houston players tried to confront the Clippers in their locker room. This time there was no such drama as the Rockets seized control early, taking a 34-12 lead after one quarter.

The Clippers trailed just 83-72 going into the final period, but Houston pulled away inexorably in the fourth. “We just kept our composure and finished the game off the right way,” Harden said. In Washington, Warriors star and DC-area native Kevin Durant celebrated his homecoming by scoring 32 points.

Stephen Curry added 25 points and the Warriors limited Washington guard Bradley Beal to eight to notch their seventh win in eight games. Eastern Conference leaders Toronto pulled away late to beat the lowly Magic 117-104 in Orlando.

The Raptors capped a 9-2 February, clamping down in the fourth quarter to force 10 misses by the Magic in their first 12 shots of the final period. Six players scored in double figures for the Raptors, with DeMar DeRozan leading the way with a game-high 21 points. -AFP

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