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Harden erupts for 50 in Rockets victory

HOUSTON — James Harden scored a career-high 50 points with 10 rebounds to lead the Houston Rockets to a 118-108 win over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night.

Harden eclipsed his previous career-best of 46, set in 2013, on a free throw with about a minute remaining. On Houston's next possession, Trevor Ariza found him in the corner and he swished a 3 under heavy pressure, to make it 50.

Six straight points by the Nuggets cut the lead to 8 with about five minutes left when the Rockets made the next five points, capped by a step back jump shot from Harden, to make it 104-91. Harden scored seven points after that to secure the victory.

It was the 29th game Harden had at least 30 points.

JAZZ 80, LAKERS 73: At Los Angeles, Gordon Hayward scored 22 points, Trey Burke added 17 off the bench, and the Utah Jazz sent the Los Angeles Lakers to their 50th loss of the season.

The Jazz, coming off an 88-84 loss against that Washington that ended a season-best six-game winning streak, are 12-2 since the All-Star break.

The loss was the fourth in a row for the lottery-bound Lakers, who have dropped 25 of their last 30.

SUNS 74, PELICANS 72: At Phoenix, Brandan Wright scored 16 points and matched his career high with seven blocked shots, helping the Phoenix Suns to a sluggish, cold-shooting victory over a New Orleans Pelicans team playing without star Anthony Davis.

Davis rolled his left ankle in the team's shootaround and his availability for the game at Golden State Friday was uncertain.

The loss dropped New Orleans a game behind Oklahoma City for the eighth playoff spot in the West. Phoenix is 2½ behind Oklahoma City and 1½ behind the Pelicans.

Eric Gordon scored 14 for the Pelicans.

TIMBERWOLVES 95, KNICKS 92: At New York, Zach LaVine made the tying and go-ahead free throws with 10.7 seconds left and scored six of his 20 points in overtime as the Minnesota Timberwolves outlasted the New York Knicks in a matchup of the NBA's biggest losers.

Minnesota (15-53) ended a six-game losing streak and snapped a tie with the Knicks (14-54) for the NBA's worst record. New York can still win for losing, and now has pole position in the race for the No. 1 draft pick.

Kevin Martin scored 22 points and Andrew Wiggins had 20 for Minnesota despite shooting 4 for 17 from the field. Gorgui Dieng finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds, and his blocked shot triggered the fast break that set up LaVine's free throws.