Harden, Westbrook shine as Rockets extend win streak

LOS ANGELES — James Harden scored 36 points and Russell Westbrook bagged a triple double as the Houston Rockets extended their red-hot winning streak to eight games with a 132-108 rout of the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday.

Harden, fresh from a 49-point display in Saturday's win over Minnesota, was once again in commanding form against a Portland team who were always second best at Houston's Toyota Center.

The 2017-2018 NBA Most Valuable Player also had six rebounds and five assists as the Blazers struggled to contain the Rockets' multi-pronged offense.

Westbrook tormented the Portland defense, finishing with 28 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists on a night when all five Houston starters finished in double figures.

Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni praised the contribution of Westbrook.

"Russell had an extra gear tonight, but it's hard to single out one guy," D'Antoni said. "They're all playing well."

The Rockets coach reserved special praise for Harden though, once again repeating his belief that the 30-year-old is the best offensive player he has ever seen.

"I'm lost for words," D'Antoni said.

"What he does is unbelievable... No matter what the other teams try to do, double-team or whatever, he just figures it out. It's incredible what he's doing."

The win saw the Rockets improve to 11-3 at the top of the Western Conference, neck-and-neck with the pace-setting Los Angeles Lakers (11-2).

C.J. McCollum led the scoring for Portland with 25 points, but team-mate Damian Lillard was kept quiet with only 13 points. Portland fell to 5-9 with the defeat.

In Dallas, Luka Doncic scored a career-high 42 points and bagged a triple double to guide the Mavericks to a 117-110 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

The 20-year-old Slovenian is the second youngest player in history to score a 40-point triple double after LeBron James.

"It's not surprising to me," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said.

"This guy can do anything he wants to on a basketball court. And you know, he's having just one of those magical runs right now, and it's a phenomenal thing to watch. It's a phenomenal thing to be a part of. His teammates, we're all just kind of along for the ride."

In Los Angeles, Paul George scored 17 points against his former team as the Clippers eked out a nail-biting 90-88 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Montrezl Harrell was the star for the Clippers with 28 points off the bench in a hard-fought contest that went right down to the buzzer.

Elsewhere Monday, Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with a 33-point haul as the Milwaukee Bucks outgunned the Chicago Bulls 115-101.

Antetokounmpo's points tally was matched by impressive defensive numbers, with the Greek star pulling down 10 rebounds, forcing eight turnovers and making three steals.

Brook Lopez had 19 points while Donte DiVincenzo added 15 for the Bucks, who improved to 10-3 in the Eastern Conference standings.

In Toronto, O.G. Anunoby and Pascal Siakam sparked the Raptors in a 132-96 demolition of the Charlotte Hornets.

Anunoby had 24 points and Siakam 20 as seven Toronto players finished in double figures against an outclassed Charlotte team.

The Boston Celtics remain on top of the Eastern Conference table after grinding out a 99-85 win over the Phoenix Suns.

Jayson Tatum had 26 points and Kemba Walker 19 as the Celtics improved to 11-2. — AFP