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Harden passes landmark in Rockets' NBA win

Press Association logoPress Association 4/02/2017

James Harden has passed 10,000 points with the Houston Rockets, scoring 42 in a 121-117 overtime NBA win against the Chicago Bulls.

On a night when the home-town crowd were set to lavish attention on Yao Ming, whose No.11 jersey was retired in a halftime ceremony, Harden stole the limelight with his points haul and a late free throw that gave the Rockets a two-point lead they never relinquished.

Harden also pulled down 12 rebounds and provided nine assists as Houston recovered after throwing away a big lead for the second night running.

Having been 20 up in the fourth quarter before losing to the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday, the Rockets blew a 17-point advantage to find themselves eight down in the fourth stanza.

Harden scored 41 in Thursday's defeat and went one better against the Bulls, making a jump shot with 36 seconds left in overtime and sinking the subsequent free throw after he was fouled in the process.

On an eventful night for the 27-year-old, Harden levelled the scores at 108 with 27 seconds remaining in regulation time but missed an attempted jump shot on the buzzer that would have won the game.

The Rockets' victory was a fitting tribute on a night Yao's retired jersey was raised to the rafters at halftime.

The 226cm centre from Shanghai was the top overall draft pick in 2002 and was an eight-time All-Star, playing nine seasons in Houston before retiring in 2011 because of mounting issues with injuries.

He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in September.

In the day's other NBA matches, Nikola Jokic achieved the first triple-double of his career as the Denver Nuggets inflicted a 10th defeat in 11 games on the Milwaukee Bucks.

Jokic contributed 20 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in a 121-117 victory.

In contrast to Jokic, Russell Westbrook had his 25th triple-double of the season and 62nd of his NBA career as the Oklahoma City Thunder downed the Memphis Grizzlies 114-102.

Westbrook scored 19 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter and weighed in with 13 rebounds and 12 assists, with his seasonal triple-tally the NBA best since Wilt Chamberlain's 31 in 1968.

Isaiah Thomas provided 38 points as the Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers 113-107 in a result true to the form book.

The Celtics sixth win on the bounce came as the Lakers lost for the fifth time in six outings as Thomas scored 20 or more points for the 34th game running.

The Orlando Magic beat the Toronto Raptors 102-94, the Indiana Pacers were 106-97 winners against the struggling Brooklyn Nets and the Detroit Pistons secured a 116-108 victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Yogi Ferrell scored 32 points, including a match-winning three-pointer with 19 seconds left, as the Dallas Mavericks beat the Portland Trail Blazers 108-104 and the Phoenix Suns edged out the Sacramento Kings 105-103.

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