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Rockets roll to 10th straight victory

Jalen Green stars to help red-hot Houston stay in play-in hunt

Updated: 2024-03-29 09:10
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Houston Rockets' Jalen Green attempts to block a shot by the Oklahoma City Thunder's Jalen Williams on Wednesday. REUTERS

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Houston Rockets didn't care that they beat an Oklahoma City squad that was missing its best player, All-Star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

The Rockets celebrated loudly in the locker room after escaping with a win at one of the toughest venues in the league. Jalen Green scored 37 points and Houston won its 10th straight game, defeating the Thunder 132-126 in overtime on Wednesday night.

"It was lit, it was lit," Green said. "Everybody was happy, celebrating, screaming. I mean, we fought for that one. We worked hard."

Rockets coach Ime Udoka said it's all about stacking victories.

"Ten in a row is 10 in a row, regardless if Shai is out or whatever the case may be," Udoka said. "But it's hard to do in the NBA. The guys are proud of that effort."

Amen Thompson had 25 points and 15 rebounds and Dillon Brooks added 20 points for the Rockets.

Gilgeous-Alexander, who was out with a bruised right thigh, ranks third in the league with 30.4 points per game.

Josh Giddey matched a career-high with 31 points for the Thunder, one night after scoring a season-high 25 in a win at New Orleans. Jalen Williams added 23 points and 10 assists for Oklahoma City, which entered the night a half game behind the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets.

Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault made no excuses for the loss.

"Every night, there's a combination of things you can control and things you can't," he said. "You want to be a team that looks at the stuff you can control. We just never want to turn a page and chalk an entire game up to luck or shot-making or refs or anything like that. You want a team that takes full accountability for what we can. We do that after wins, we do that after losses and we'll do that after this one."

The final minutes of regulation were hectic. Giddey hustled to the ball and got a shot to bounce in while sitting on the floor a few feet in front of the free-throw line, putting the Thunder ahead 103-102 with just under four minutes remaining.

Oklahoma City's Williams made a contested 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds remaining to tie the score at 112. Green's layup at the buzzer rolled away, forcing overtime.

"Had a decent look at a shot, but we felt OK, put it behind us and we just went after it," Udoka said.

Brooks hit two 3-pointers early in the extra period to put the Rockets in control.

"It was big when Dillon came out and hit those two, and then we guarded even better until the end of the overtime," Udoka said.

The game had a little extra flair from the start. Confetti from a previous event rained down on the floor right before the tip-off.

The Thunder trailed by double digits in the first quarter, but rallied to lead 50-49 at halftime.

Giddey fouled Jabari Smith Jr, with the Thunder leading 69-62.Giddey tried to help him up, but Brooks pushed Giddey away and was issued a technical foul. It was Brooks'14th of the season, putting him two short of a one-game suspension.

The Rockets are a game behind the Golden State Warriors in the fight for the final play-in spot in the Western Conference.

Draymond's ill discipline

Golden State's Draymond Green was ejected less than four minutes into the Warriors' game against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night, the forward's fourth ejection of the season.

It was Green's first ejection since his 16-game suspension by the NBA for his history of misconduct and after he struck Phoenix Suns center Jusuf Nurkic in the face during a Dec 12 game.

"It's unfortunate. He deserved it," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after Golden State beat the Magic 101-93. "And he'll bounce back."

With 8:24 remaining in the first quarter, Green argued with referee Ron Acosta after a foul was called on teammate Andrew Wiggins. Magic forward Paolo Banchero scored a layup on the play and added the free throw.

Green was called for two technical fouls in quick succession, and thereby automatically ejected.

"After a prolonged diatribe, Green directed egregious profane language toward a game official," crew chief Mitchell Irvin said.

Lakers locked in

LeBron James had a triple-double with 23 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists, Rui Hachimura scored 32 points as the Los Angeles Lakers built a big lead in the third quarter and beat the Memphis Grizzlies 136-124 on Wednesday night.

Coming off a 128-124 double-overtime victory in Milwaukee without James on Tuesday night, the Lakers won their fifth straight to pull within 2 1/2 games of idle Dallas for the sixth spot in the Western Conference, a spot that would avoid a play-in game.

Anthony Davis sat out against Memphis after having 34 points and 23 rebounds in a career-high 52 minutes against Milwaukee. He hyper-extended his left knee late against the Bucks. James said Hachimura's scoring along with grabbing 10 rebounds was key.

"Rui's ability to shoot and spread the floor was big time for us," James said. "He just stayed locked in all night."

Agencies via Xinhua

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