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The NBA’s leading scorer flew into Houston from Kobe Bryant’s memorial service in L.A. and dropped 37 points Monday in the Rockets’ 123-112 victory over New York. He needed just 34 minutes to get his impressive scoring total, adding nine assists and two steals.
For the Knicks (17-40), the defeat was a fourth straight and their season is officially off the rails. Their defense was putrid on Monday and RJ Barrett’s 21-point performance was wasted. The Rockets (37-20) won their fourth straight.
Great player, great offensive team. As strange as it sounds, we gave too many easy baskets,” Knicks interim coach Mike Miller told reporters. “There were four or five coverage plays in the first half, there were a couple where we just got beat off the dribble. You can’t give those away. You have a team that can attack you so many different ways. You have to make them earn everything. I think they got too many easy ones early.
“The story was we allowed too much. You can bend a little bit but you can’t break. And I think in that area we made it difficult on ourselves.”
Harden, along with teammates Russell Westbrook and PJ Tucker, took a private jet from Bryant’s memorial service and arrived at Toyota Center about an hour before tipoff. Although Harden played and was spectacular, Westbrook was a late scratch because of thumb soreness. The Rockets didn’t need him.
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