James Harden scored 51 points and added 13 rebounds and 13 assists to lead the visiting Houston Rockets to a 123-118 victory over Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night.
Harden, who had 19 of his points in the third quarter, has at least 30 points and 10 assists in 18 games this season. The NBA’s third-leading scorer entering the game, Harden finished two points shy of tying his career high. He was 16 for 28 from the field, including six for 11 from 3-point range, while making 13 of 14 free throws.
Nene added 21 points for the Rockets, who snapped a two-game skid while winning for just the fourth time in 10 games.
Embiid had 32 points and seven rebounds in his return to the lineup after missing the last two games with a knee contusion. Embiid, who was questionable until about 45 minutes before tipoff, showed that he was just fine with an emphatic, lefthanded dunk over Nene for Philadelphia’s first two points, which drew loud cheers from the 76ers’ large crowd.
Bulls’ Wade, Butler benched for comments • Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler were dropped from the Chicago Bulls’ starting lineup Friday night against the Miami Heat as punishment for postgame comments questioning their teammates’ desire following a loss.
“Just based on what happened the other night, we felt it was appropriate to make the change,” coach Fred Hoiberg said in announcing the decision about 90 minutes before tipoff.
Paul Zipser and Doug McDermott were inserted into the starting lineup.
“It doesn’t matter if I start,” Butler said. “I still have to do what I do anyways, help the team win. Nothing surprises me anymore.”
Before the morning shootasround, the Bulls held a team meeting to clear the air after Rajon Rondo fired back at Wade and Butler in an Instagram post Thursday. There was an uneasy detente in place for the three leaders of the Bulls, who are now answering questions about their ability to get along as well as why they aren’t winning more.
Rondo said he “absolutely” felt he needed to defend the younger players after Wade and Butler teed off on the team following a rough loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night. He did just that while calling out the two stars and insinuating that they were overriding Hoiberg when it came to the game plan — a notion the coach shot down.
Wade insisted he has “no issue, no problems” with Rondo. He also made it clear he has no regrets about his comments, shaking his head no.
Butler said he has no issues with Rondo, that he has a right to speak his mind.
All three players were fined by the team but not suspended.
Thunder’s Kanter has surgery • Oklahoma City center Enes Kanter had surgery Friday and will be out at least a month after fracturing his right forearm by punching a chair during a win over the Dallas Mavericks.
The team said Kanter will be re-evaluated in four weeks.
Kanter is one of the NBA’s top reserves and is the Thunder’s third-leading scorer at 14.4 points per game. He finished third in balloting for the league’s top sixth man last season, and his scoring average is up this season. He has 12 double-doubles, is shooting 56 percent from the field and averages 6.7 rebounds per contest.
Kings’ Barnes to turn himself in over nightclub incident • Sacramento forward Matt Barnes will turn himself to face misdemeanor assault charges from a Dec. 5 altercation at a New York nightclub, a source close to Barnes confirmed.
The Kings will play in Philadelphia on Monday night, but the source said it was uncertain exactly when Barnes will turn himself into authorities.
The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person did not have authority to speak on the matter.
The incident happened at the Avenue nightclub after the Kings played the New York Knicks. Barnes was accused of choking a woman. Barnes has maintained his innocence and denied starting the altercation.
Barnes was wanted for questioning after the incident and his attorney, Alex Spiro, said in a statement at the time that Barnes would cooperate with the investigation.
Barnes, however, left New York after the incident and traveled with the Kings to Dallas.
Barnes, 36, and Kings’ three-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins have been named in a civil suit stemming from the incident. Cousins, however, is not facing any criminal charges. (The Sacrmento Bee)
NBA corrects Lakers-Pacers scoring error • The NBA corrected a scoring error made last week in the Los Angeles Lakers’ home victory over the Indiana Pacers.
The NBA said Friday that Indiana’s Glenn Robinson III was incorrectly credited with a 3-pointer on a jumper shot inside the 3-point line with 1:49 remaining. The final score of the Jan. 20 game is now Los Angeles 108, Indiana 95.