Chris Paul carries Houston Rockets in double OT after James Harden departs

By MoiseKapenda Bower, The Sports Xchange  |  Updated Dec. 31, 2017 at 10:52 PM
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HOUSTON -- With James Harden exiting late due to a hamstring injury, Chris Paul carried the Rockets to a 148-142 double-overtime victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night at Toyota Center, snapping Houston's season-high, five-game skid.

Paul finished with 28 points, six rebounds and 10 assists as Houston (26-9) contested both extra periods without Harden, who finished with 40 points and 11 assists before departing.

Paul had a hand in four consecutive baskets in the first overtime, but Lakers forward Brandon Ingram sank a pair of free throws with 0.8 seconds remaining to force the second overtime. In the second extra period, Paul converted six free throws inside the final minute, with Houston taking the lead for good on a second-chance basket by reserve forward P.J. Tucker, his only points of the game.

Trevor Ariza added 26 points for Houston, hitting 6 of 10 3-pointers. The Rockets trailed by as many as 17 points before rallying against the Lakers, whose losing streak hit six games.

Julius Randle paced the Lakers (11-24) with 29 points and 15 rebounds before fouling out in the first overtime. Josh Hart added 26 points and six boards before fouling out in the second extra session. Tyler Ennis, filling in for injured rookie guard Lonzo Ball, had season highs in points (20) and assists (11) before fouling out in the second overtime. Kyle Kuzma added 23 points.

Harden departed inside the final minute of regulation, clutching his hamstring following a miss on a driving layup that left the Rockets in a 122-119 hole. Kuzma delivered the Lakers that lead with his second 3-pointer down the stretch, but after Gerald Green pulled Houston even with a corner trey with 7.7 seconds left, Kuzma missed his subsequent 3-point attempt, forcing overtime.

For a brief spell, all seemed right with the Rockets. Houston managed a response following a blistering start by the Lakers, who missed only two shots while posting 20 points by the 6:24 mark.

The Rockets surged into the lead with a 9-0 run and led by as many as nine points during their 44-point opening frame. But after making 6 of 10 3-pointers in the first quarter, the Rockets missed 13 of 14 from deep in the second. The Lakers, meanwhile, kept on scoring with ease.

Fueled by Randle, the Lakers scored 48 points in the paint in the first half. Trailing 60-56, the Lakers seized control with a 13-0 run that featured a Kuzma 3 and two interior baskets by Randle. The Lakers produced 72 first-half points and barely slowed down after the break.

NOTES: Lakers F Julius Randle needed just 14 minutes to record his fifth double-double on the season, posting 19 points and 10 rebounds in the first half. Randle had scored as many as 19 points in a game three times previously. ... Rockets G James Harden logged 41 minutes after being listed as questionable with a right foot contusion. Harden missed a total of two games over the previous three seasons and has played in all 35 games this season. ... After missing two games with a right orbital fracture, Rockets C Clint Capela donned a protective mask to start the game. He ditched the mask at the intermission, and he wound up with seven points and seven rebounds.

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