Houston Rockets halt slide; Mavs mute Thunder

LOS ANGELES – The Houston Rockets take some good news – and perhaps some bad – into 2018 after snapping their five-game NBA losing streak with a 148-142 double-overtime victory over the Los Angeles  Lakers on Sunday.

James Harden scored 40 points but departed in the final minute of regulation with a hamstring injury.

Point guard Chris Paul scored 15 of his 28 points in the two overtime periods to carry Houston to a much-needed win on their home floor.

Paul played a part in four straight baskets in the first extra period, but Lakers forward Brandon Ingram made two free throws with eight-tenths of a second remaining to force the second.

In the second extra session, Paul made six free throws in the final minute and Houston took the lead for good on a second-chance basket by reserve forward P.J. Tucker – his only points in the contest.

The sight of Harden limping off must have tempered the Rockets’ pleasure in snapping their skid.

Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said it was too early to speculate about the severity of Harden’s injury.

“I don’t think we’ll know until (Monday),” D’Antoni said. “I don’t think they’ll be able to assess it until (Monday) morning.”

In Los Angeles, Lou Williams came off the bench to score 40 points and propel the Clippers to a 106-98 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.

“He was just a nightmare tonight,” Charlotte forward Frank Kaminsky said of Williams. “He started hitting (three-pointers) early, so we start getting up on his screen.
In Oklahoma City, Dallas rookie Dennis Smith Jr. produced 11 points in the final 1:39 to lift the Mavericks to a 116-113 victory over the Thunder.

“He was great tonight,” said Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle after Smith contributed 19 points, four rebounds and six assists.