NBA wrap: James Harden scores game-high 25 in return to lineup

The Rockets were happy to get James Harden back Saturday.

In two of the three games Harden missed, Houston lost by a combined 39 points. In Harden’s return, the visiting Rockets topped the Bulls 96-88 behind the six-time All Star’s game-high 25 points. Harden was close to a double-double, finished with seven assists including this dish to Gerald Green in transition.


Harden to Green in transition! #Rockets

Harden had help from James Ennis III, who scored a season-high 15 points, and Clint Capela, who helped carry the load in Harden’s absence. Capela finished the game with 12 points and 12 rebounds. 

Zach LaVine was the leading scorer for the Bulls. He netted 21 points. 

Studs of the night

Joel Embiid led the 76ers to a 10-point victory with another big night. He followed up his 40-plus point performance Thursday with 39 points against the Pistons on Saturday. Embiid scored 32 of those points in the first half for a new career best through two quarters. He made 10 of his 18 field goals and netted 18 3-pointers, and grabbed 17 rebounds — all of which were on defense. He joined Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and Walt Bellamy as the only players in NBA history with seven 30-point, 10-rebound games within their team’s first 10 games of a season.

There were a number of good performances in the Heats-Hawks matchup, including Atlanta rookie Trae Young, who scored 24 points and dished out 15 assists. But, the star of the game is actually on the losing squad. In Miami’s 123-118 loss, Josh Richardson had a career-high 32 points. He was a perfect 6 of 6 from the charity stripe, knocked down 6 of 10 3-pointers and hit 10 of his 18 field goals.

Duds of the night

This category is for the 1-8 Cavaliers. 

Cleveland was already struggling with Kevin Love, and now without him things seem even bleaker. The Cavs dropped a road game to the Hornets, 126-94 to continue their skid. Only one starter scored in double digits as Sam Dekker recorded 11 points. The team’s best players came off the bench — JR Smith finished with 14 points and Jordan Clarkson had 13 — but even their performances weren’t nearly enough to keep up with Charlotte.  


Victor Oladipo scored 24 points in the Pacers’ 102-101 win over the Celtics, but none were as important as this game-winning 3-pointer. 


Victor Oladipo scores 24 PTS with 12 REB to give the @Pacers the 102-101 victory on @NBATV!

What’s more impressive than this play by Donovan Mitchell? Maybe the fact that he was able to return after being carried off the court. Mitchell suffered what seemed to be a minor ankle injury, but quickly had it re-taped and was ready for action as the Jazz faced the Nuggets. 

Donovan through the defense with the scoop! #TeamIsEverything

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What’s next?

Raptors (8-1) at Lakers (4-5), 9:30 p.m. ET — The Lakers will wrap up a busy weekend Sunday when it hosts the Raptors. Los Angeles is coming off a 114-110 win Saturday, and will continue to build off the new momentum of two close victories. But, it won’t be easy since Toronto has been on a hot streak. The Raptors have won two consecutive games behind some impressive performances from Kawhi Leonard. He netted 31 points in the victory over the 76ers on Tuesday and followed that with 19 points in a win versus the Suns.

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