• 59°

Harden, Capella lead Rockets past feisty Hornets

Hornets fall to the Rockets

Charlotte Hornets’ Malik Monk, right, shoots against Houston Rockets’ Clint Capela, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

By Steve Reed

AP Sports Writer

CHARLOTTE (AP) — James Harden scored 30 points, Clint Capela had 23 points and a career-high 17 rebounds, and the Houston Rockets beat the Charlotte Hornets 118-113 on Wednesday night for their third straight win.

In his first game since ending his streak of 30-point games at 32, Harden struggled from the field, missing his first eight shots from 3-point range — even having one blocked by Nic Batum, who gave the MVP candidate fits all night with his defense.

Harden finished 10 of 29 from the field and 1 of 11 from 3-point range, but he made two clutch free throws with 14.6 seconds left to put the game away.

He had plenty of support.

Capela was solid throughout, and Chris Paul heated up in the fourth quarter and finished with 17 points and 10 assists for the Rockets (36-25).

Kemba Walker had 35 points for the Hornets, 27 in the first half. He was 3 of 12 from the floor after halftime.

The Rockets trailed by four entering the fourth quarter but opened with an 18-4 run behind six points from Paul, including four on fall-away mid-range jumpers.

The Hornets battled back behind Walker and Jeremy Lamb, who had 18 points and 14 rebounds, and had a chance to tie with 17 seconds left. Walker missed a leaning 3-pointer from the right wing and the Hornets fouled Harden, who made two free throws to make it a five-point game.

Walker missed another 3 with seven seconds left, and the Rockets escaped with the win.

Eric Gordon got the start for the Rockets over Kenneth Faried. Coach Mike D’Antoni said the move keeps Paul from covering the opposition’s point guard for the entire game, which could help preserve his health down the stretch.

Gordon had six points.

The loss leaves the Hornets a half-game ahead of the Magic in the battle for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

TIP INS

Rockets: Scored 41 points in the first quarter on 61 percent shooting. … Faried didn’t start but still managed to pick up his fourth foul by the middle of the second quarter.

Hornets: Walker became the first Eastern Conference player to reach 200 3-pointers when he buried a step-back jumper against Harden in the first quarter.

UP NEXT

Rockets: Host Heat on Thursday night.

Hornets: Visit Nets on Friday night.

•••

WARRIORS HOST SOME KIDS FROM STONEMAN DOUGLAS FOR PRACTICE

MIAMI (AP) — Stephen Curry would ordinarily be getting off his feet as fast as possible after a morning shootaround practice, saving his legs for the looming game that night.

Wednesday, however, wasn’t ordinary.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr invited some students — including ones from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, the school in Parkland where 17 students and staff were killed in a massacre on Feb. 14, 2018 — into the Warriors’ game-morning practice in Miami. And long after the session was over, Curry was throwing alley-oop lobs and engaging in 3-point contests with kids who couldn’t believe they were hanging out with stars from the two-time defending NBA champions.

“You hate that you have these opportunities because of what happened at our school,” said Jeff Foster, a teacher and former coach at Stoneman Douglas. “But at the same time, it’s nice to have these contacts and meet people and coach Kerr has been at a few of the events with our kids … you’re always glad to sit around and talk to him, whether it’s about basketball or politics. And we just spent time doing both.”

While Kerr was chatting with teachers, some of the boys and girls got onto the court with the Warriors. Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Kevin Durant and Curry were among those who stuck around after shootaround for about an extra half-hour, posing for photos and talking about basketball.

“It’s special having them here,” Curry said as he watched the kids playing on the same court where the Warriors would visit the Miami Heat on Wednesday night. “They’ve done so much in the wake of the shooting, speaking out, using their platform that they have, the entire student body. They come to just have fun, enjoy themselves. I know that means a lot.”

Kerr invited the students into the practice, and makes no secret about his desire for gun reform. Kerr was 18 when his father Malcolm, then president of American University of Beirut, was murdered.

He’s followed the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas and their “March For Our Lives” organization’s efforts closely.

“The fortunate thing is the young people leading this drive are going to be much more impactful than old people like me,” Kerr said. “It’s true. Older people have been trying to do something but they haven’t made the impact. But the next generation, the country belongs to them. So I’m really proud of what they’re doing.”

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