Houston Rockets coach Stephen Silas was like a new man after his team finally ended a 20-match losing streak in the NBA.

Silas was left distraught after Sunday's narrow 114-112 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, but felt a huge weight lifted off his shoulders following a long-awaited victory over the Toronto Raptors the next day.

Houston were in the midst of a franchise-record drought – the Rockets' skid tied for the ninth-worst in NBA history and the longest since the Philadelphia 76ers' 28-game losing streak across the 2014-15 and 2015-16 campaigns.

But the Rockets recorded an overdue victory on Monday, celebrating their first win since February 4 behind John Wall's 19 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a 117-99 triumph over the Toronto Raptors.

"It's like indescribable for a win in March of this crazy season," Silas said.

"I'm just so proud of the guys. When you're like going through it and fighting so hard and you just see the disappointment in the players' faces after loss after loss after loss.

"Then to go into the locker room after today's game and everybody's just happy and joyous, I mean, it's super cool and great.

"I was down and out yesterday. It seems like a week ago now. We regroup, we come together, and it feels a lot better just because I know it feels great for the players.

"Like, whatever for me, but I'm just so happy for those guys that they don't have to hear about it and deal with it."

The game saw Wall's first triple-double since March 2016 as the Raptors crashed to a ninth consecutive defeat – now the league's longest active losing run.

And Wall conceded it had been a tough spell to endure, one he was glad to see come to an end.

"Losing 20 straight, we haven't been healthy, but that's not an excuse because everybody's been going through health and safety protocols and injuries," he said. 

"We just went out there and competed, no matter what and what was going on."

The Houston Rockets snapped their 20-game losing streak after John Wall posted his first triple-double since 2016 in a 117-99 win against the slumping Toronto Raptors.

Houston were in the midst of a franchise-record drought – the Rockets' skid tied for the ninth-worst in NBA history and the worst since the Philadelphia 76ers and their record-setting 28-game losing streak across the 2014-15 and 2015-16 campaigns.

But the Rockets recorded an overdue victory on Monday, celebrating their first win since February 4 behind Wall's 19 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

It was Wall's first triple-double since March 2016 as the Raptors crashed to a ninth consecutive defeat – now the league's longest active losing streak.

Giannis Antetokounmpo sat out due to a sprained left knee, but the Milwaukee Bucks still routed the Indiana Pacers 140-113 in the absence of the two-time reigning MVP.

Jrue Holiday led the way with 28 points and 14 assists to guide the Bucks to a seventh consecutive victory at home to the Pacers.

 

Gobert enjoys career-high game

Rudy Gobert had 21 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high nine blocks as the NBA-leading Utah Jazz eased past the Chicago Bulls 120-95. The All-Star became the first Jazz player to record nine-plus blocks in a game since Andrei Kirilenko in 2006. Gobert fell just short of becoming the first Jazz player to post a triple-double since 2008. Donovan Mitchell added 30 points for the visiting Jazz.

Luke Kennard was flawless in the Los Angeles Clippers' 119-110 win against the Atlanta Hawks. He was eight-of-eight shooting, while he also made all four of his three-point attempts for 20 points off the bench in 18 minutes. Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points and Terance Mann contributed a season-high 21 points as the Clippers rallied from a 22-point deficit in the second half, snapping Atlanta's eight-game winning streak.

The Oklahoma City Thunder topped the Minnesota Timberwolves 112-103 thanks to 31 points from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Oklahoma City set a season high with 21 three-pointers in just 37 attempts (56.8 per cent).

 

George struggles

The Clippers won but star Paul George struggled. In 33 minutes, George had eight points on just three-of-12 shooting. He was also just two-of-seven from three-point range.

Chris Boucher had a forgettable outing for the out-of-form Raptors. He was one-of-seven shooting, while missing all four of his attempts from beyond the arc in a four-point display.

 

From inside his own half!

Danuel House Jr. nailed a stunning half-time buzzer-beater from beyond half court against the Raptors.

 

Monday's results

Sacramento Kings 119-105 Cleveland Cavaliers
Oklahoma City Thunder 112-103 Minnesota Timberwolves
Charlotte Hornets 100-97 San Antonio Spurs
Utah Jazz 120-95 Chicago Bulls
Houston Rockets 117-99 Toronto Raptors
Memphis Grizzlies 132-126 Boston Celtics (OT)
Milwaukee Bucks 140-113 Indiana Pacers
Los Angeles Clippers 119-110 Atlanta Hawks

 

76ers at Warriors

The Eastern Conference-leading 76ers (30-13) – riding back-to-back wins – travel to the Golden State Warriors (22-21) on Tuesday. Golden State will be without star Stephen Curry (back).

All eyes in the NBA will be trained on Houston on Wednesday as the Rockets host James Harden and the Brooklyn Nets.

Harden was an outstanding player with the Rockets, winning the 2018 MVP award and twice reaching the Western Conference Finals, but he is unlikely to receive a warm welcome.

The nine-time All-Star decided in the offseason he wanted to leave Houston and worked to force a trade.

Although the Rockets initially resisted, a blockbuster deal was eventually agreed with the Nets, who pipped the Philadelphia 76ers to the signing.

Harden, slow by his lofty standards in the first eight games of the season in Houston, has rediscovered his best form in the NBA's newest 'big three' with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

Both the player and his former team, struggling badly at 11-22, will be determined to come out on top in this first meeting since they parted ways.


TOP PERFORMERS

Houston Rockets - John Wall

Even with Harden's numbers declining at the start of 2020-21, no Houston player has been able to match the 24.8 points he scored on average across those eight games.

Christian Wood (22.0) has come closest, yet an ankle injury has limited him to just 17 games. The Rockets have lost 12 in a row since he went down a month ago.

So, Wall, who missed the entirety of the Washington Wizards' 2019-20 campaign with a torn ACL, has had to step into the breach.

Although Houston's form is awful, Wall at least comes into this clash on somewhat of a roll, playing 10 straight games and scoring 32 points last time out against the Cleveland Cavaliers, his best return since December 2018.

Brooklyn Nets - James Harden

Wall is not alone in being asked to do some heavy lifting, as Harden, the third man signed to the 'big three', has operated without either Irving or Durant due to injuries at times in the early stages of his Brooklyn career.

He has done so admirably, however, averaging 25.3 points, 11.3 assists and 8.7 rebounds since leaving the Rockets.

With Irving returning following a back issue against the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, Harden scaled new heights, becoming the first player to post 30 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds in a game without a single turnover since individual turnovers were first tracked in 1977-78.

It was his seventh triple-double of the season already, a mark he only once passed in Houston colours (22 in 2016-17).
 

KEY BATTLE - CAN HOUSTON GET TO HARDEN?

Irving claimed after the Spurs game there would be "no animosity" and "no tension" in Houston "on the court or about James in my presence or anybody else's presence". That seemed optimistic.

Harden's parting shot at the Rockets, where he claimed to "have done everything that I can", prompted angry responses from Wall and the since-waived DeMarcus Cousins.

Given Wall and Cousins had each been team-mates of Harden for only eight games, it stands to reason that some of his long-standing colleagues might have been even more frustrated.

With the Nets a far superior outfit to the Rockets, the conversation around Harden on the court might prove as interesting as any matchup. The Brooklyn man will have to handle the heat.
 

HEAD TO HEAD

The Rockets have had the better of this series, boasting a 64-32 regular-season record, most recently winning in December 2019 when lifted by 44 points from Harden.

The 31-year-old has a 14-15 record against the Oklahoma City Thunder, his only other former team, averaging 28.2 points.

In Harden's three years with OKC, he was 6-6 against Houston.

Western Conference leaders, the Utah Jazz, bounced back from their first loss in 10 games by draining a franchise-record 28 threes while crushing the Charlotte Hornets 132-110.

Donovan Mitchell top scored with 23 points, while three players – Joe Ingles, Jordan Clarkson and Georges Niang – came off the bench to post 20 points or more to send the Jazz to 25-6.

Ingles and Niang each shot seven from downtown, while Clarkson added five. 

Utah became the fastest team in NBA history to record 500 three-pointers in a season, setting the record at 31 games.

John Wall was glad to get a rare win over Russell Westbrook – as well as coming out on top against his former team – after helping the Houston Rockets prevail against the Washington Wizards.

Wall had 24 points as the Rockets triumphed 107-88 despite the best efforts of his former back-court partner Bradley Beal, who finished with a game-high 33 for the short-handed Wizards.

For Wall, this was his first time going up against the franchise that drafted him with the first overall pick in the 2010 draft. The point guard was traded prior to this season, swapping places with Westbrook.

Not for the first time in their careers, the pair exchanged words during Tuesday's contest, leading to both receiving technical fouls.

"Trash talking, that's what two competitive guys do," Wall explained in his post-game interview.

"Russ has been kicking my a** for years - I think this is only my third win against Russ since I've been in the league, so he's a hell of a talent.

"I know he's dealing with injuries the same as I was, we just keep trying to get better and lead our team.

"It's just competitive guys trash talking. This isn't the first time; we've trash talked before. We knew how good he could be."

As for Westbrook, he is looking forward to the opportunity of coming up against Houston again later in the season - Washington will have home advantage when the teams meet on February 15.

The nine-time NBA All-Star contributed 19 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in the defeat at Toyota Center, his former home before the trade that sent him to the Wizards.

"Now listen, I don't start talking s***," Westbrook said. "I defend myself because I don't just allow people to say just anything, especially when I know the facts as it pertains to anybody on the court playing against [me].

"So, I think [they] just started talking s*** because they just started to win, started winning at that time. You know, it's cool, though. We play them again."

Wall, playing restricted minutes as he comes back after two injury plagued years, admits he is having fun with Houston, declaring he is just happy to be on a team where he feels wanted.

Victor Oladipo had 20 points while DeMarcus Cousins contributed 19 as well as 11 rebounds for the Rockets, who are starting afresh following the departure of disgruntled superstar James Harden.

"I haven't played in two years so this is fun," Wall said. "To be somewhere where you're wanted, that's the most important thing.

"I never want to be anywhere where I'm not wanted, and I feel like this organisation wanted me here and they've shown nothing but love and trust for me since day one."

Defeat was particularly tough on Beal, who now has 413 points for the struggling Wizards, who own a 3-10 record in the East. 

The shooting guard is the third player in NBA history to score at least 400 points during his first 12 games but have three or fewer wins. The others were both in 1959-60 - Elgin Baylor and Jack Twyman.

James Harden appears to be heading for a Houston Rockets exit after his frustrations boiled over following the team's loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Harden reportedly wants to be traded to either the Philadelphia 76ers or another contender in the NBA, and the former MVP had a clear message after the Rockets were swept aside by defending champions the Lakers 117-100 on Tuesday.

The Rockets star walked out of his post-game news conference, not before telling the media: "I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can.

"This situation is crazy. It's something that I don't think can be fixed."

Led by Harden, the Rockets have reached two Western Conference Finals, while Houston have three semi-final appearances since the eight-time All-Star was acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012.

In 2019-20, points scored by Harden and points scored off his assists averaged 52.4 per game. It followed 53.9 in 2018-19, 51.3 in 2017-18 and 56 the season previous.

That marked four successive seasons with 50-plus points per game created, tying Oscar Robertson (1963-64 to 1966-67) for the longest streak in NBA history.

Harden averaged 34.3 points, 7.5 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game for the Rockets, who lost in the Western Conference semi-finals at Walt Disney World Resort.

But Harden looks out of shape and out of sorts in 2020-21 amid links to the likes of the 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors.

Harden made just five of 16 shots from the field, while he only nailed one of his six three-point attempts for 16 points in 31 minutes as the Rockets slumped to 3-6.

"We're not even close, honestly, to that team – obviously the defending champions – and all the other elite teams out there," Harden said. "I mean, you can tell the difference in these last two games.

"We're just not good enough – chemistry, talent-wise, just everything. And it was clear these last two games."

Moments after Harden left the podium, Rockets team-mate John Wall stepped up and the five-time All-Star did not hold back as he addressed the situation in Houston.

"When you have certain guys in the mix who don't want to buy in, all as one, it's going to be hard to do anything special, to do anything good as a basketball team," said Wall, who was acquired by the Rockets after Russell Westbrook was traded to the Washington Wizards.

Wall added: "We can't dwell down on it because it's only been nine games. Come on man, you want to jump off a cliff after nine games. It's a lot of basketball still to be played."

Asked about his partnership with Harden on the court, Wall said: "I think it's been a little rocky. Can't lie about that. I don't think it's been the best it could be, to be honest. That's all I really could say."

Houston Rockets coach Stephen Silas hailed his team after they beat the Sacramento Kings despite losing James Harden shortly before tip-off on Saturday.

Harden turned his ankle late in the previous game against the Kings on Thursday but was not ruled out until 30 minutes before the subsequent 102-94 win, having by then gone through his shooting routine in the warm-up.

Silas was delighted the late blow did not prove decisive.

"[Harden] was just going to see how it felt," the coach said. "Obviously it didn't feel good enough for him to play.

"For us to win this game without him is pretty special."

John Wall stepped up in Harden's absence, making his mark with 28 points after coronavirus contact-tracing protocols kept him quarantined for the start of the season.

Wall, acquired from the Washington Wizards in a trade for Russell Westbrook, has registered 50 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds across two wins against the Kings since returning from a two-year injury lay-off.

Silas said: "I didn't have many expectations [of Wall]. I didn’t know what to expect. I saw some Instagram videos and stuff, playing pickup.

"We heard from people that said he looked good. But we didn't know until we got him.

"Whatever expectations I had, he obviously exceeded them. He's scoring. He's making plays for others.

"He's still rusty with his decision-making and he knows that. That's just a part of it. When you haven't played in so long, you shouldn't expect him to be totally crisp all the way through."

John Wall enjoyed his Houston Rockets debut, saying his job was to make James Harden's life a little easier.

In his first regular-season appearance since December 2018, Wall helped the Rockets past the Sacramento Kings 122-119 on Thursday.

Wall finished with 22 points, nine assists and six rebounds, while Harden had 33 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

After his debut for the Rockets, Wall said he enjoyed his connection with Harden.

"I think it was cool. I missed some easy shots, trying to get some rust off, no matter how much I practice and play in preseason it's a bit different when you get in real games," the guard told a news conference.

Wall added: "My job here is to help James as much as possible, make it a little easier for him.

"You know when we need a bucket and get to crunch-time situation, you know what he's capable of."

Harden scored 16 fourth-quarter points for the Rockets, who claimed their first win of the season.

The eight-time All-Star was pleased with the win, while praising Wall's performance.

"He was extremely aggressive, making plays, defensively getting after it, he looked really, really good, especially not playing in almost two years," Harden said.

"Once we get a rhythm and guys get into their roles and find their best fit for the team, we'll be even better.

"But I'm happy in the last six minutes when it was time to get stops we did and offensively we executed."

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