Sexton scores 29 as Cavs hold off Harden, Rockets 117-108
CLEVELAND — Rookie Collin Sexton scored a season-high 29 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers overcame 40 points by Houston’s James Harden to win consecutive games for the first time this season, beating the Rockets 117-108 on Saturday night.
Sexton, taken with the eighth pick in the draft, was 14 for 21 from the floor and hit several key baskets in the second half as the Cavaliers held off multiple runs from the Rockets.
Cleveland (4-14) won 121-112 in Philadelphia on Friday and rode that momentum against the Rockets, who played without star point guard Chris Paul.
Harden, playing the entire second half, was 14 for 30 from the floor with 13 assists. The reigning MVP scored 24 points in the first half, including 15 for the second straight night in the first quarter. Harden has scored at least 30 points in four consecutive games.
Harden made two free throws in the third quarter, but both were waved off because of his own foul line violations.
Paul, who is second on the team in scoring and leads Houston in assists, was rested after the Rockets lost in overtime to Detroit on Friday. Eric Gordon started at point guard and scored 28 points.
Tristan Thompson had 16 points and 20 rebounds for Cleveland. Jordan Clarkson added 20 points.
Sexton and Clarkson hit baskets after Houston cut a 10-point deficit to 106-102 with five minutes to play. Rodney Hood’s 3-pointer gave Cleveland a 115-104 lead with 2:47 remaining.
The first half had 12 lead changes. Cleveland hit five 3-pointers in the second quarter, including two by Kyle Korver that helped the Cavaliers go ahead 59-50. That was the biggest lead for either team in the half.
MAPPING IT OUT
The Rockets want to be cautious with how much the 33-year-old Paul plays. The nine-time All-Star is in his 14th season.
“The plan was always to monitor his workload,” coach Mike D’Antoni said.
Paul scored 20 points in 37 minutes Friday. He averages 17.9 points and 7.7 assists in 15 games.
The first quarter produced some unusually high numbers. The Rockets had six turnovers in the first four minutes, but didn’t turn the ball over again in the period. The Cavaliers were whistled for nine team fouls and were in the penalty midway through the quarter.
Rockets: Houston had won 10 of the last 12 meetings with Cleveland going into the game. … Friday’s game began a stretch that will see the Rockets play seven of nine on the road.
Cavaliers: F David Nwaba started for the third straight game in place of Larry Nance. Nwaba had steals on Houston’s first two possessions that resulted in Cleveland baskets. … G George Hill (sprained right shoulder) has begun shooting drills, but coach Larry Drew isn’t sure when he’ll return. Hill has missed the last eight games.
Rockets: Visit Washington on Monday.
Cavaliers: Host Minnesota on Monday.