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NBA roundup: James Harden stars again as Houston beat Philadelphia

The Boston Celtics also had a narrow escape against the struggling Atlanta Hawks.

James Harden turned in a dominant performance with 44 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists as the Houston Rockets overcame the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night.

Harden's triple-double was complemented by 30 points and 14 rebounds from Clint Capela as Houston, fourth in the Western Conference, proved too strong for the 76ers in the 118-108 home win.

Ben Simmons played superbly in a losing cause with his own triple-double of 29 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists. His four blocks also matched his career high.

However, the Philadelphia have now lost four straight games, their longest winless streak since losing five in a row in December 2017.

The Miami Heat were brought back to earth in a 105-85 loss at the Orlando Magic.

A day after their best defensive effort of the season in an 84-76 defeat of the defending champion Toronto Raptors, the third-placed Heat were upset by a strong all-round performance by their eighth-placed rivals in the East.

The Magic smothered Miami out of the game in the last quarter, in which they shot only three of 19 shots from the field for just six points – tying a franchise record for fewest points conceded in any quarter.

Terrence Ross led Orlando with 25 points against his former team and Nikola Vucevic had 20 points and 11 rebounds. Jimmy Butler hit 23 points and 10 boards for the Heat.

The Boston Celtics had a narrow escape against the lowly Atlanta Hawks, winning 109-106 at TD Garden.

The Hawks brought the worst record in the NBA into the match against their second-placed Eastern Conference rivals, but blew them off the court early on to lead by 13 points after the first quarter.

The Celtics gradually reeled Atlanta in, with Marcus Smart hitting a three-pointer that gave Boston a four-point lead with 43 seconds left.

Jaylen Brown top-scored for Boston with 24 points and 10 rebounds, while Trae Young had 28 points and 10 assists for the Hawks.

In other games, the Portland Trail Blazers won 122-103 at the Washington Wizards, the Phoenix Suns beat the visiting New York Knicks 120-112 and the Los Angeles Lakers won 123-113 at home to the New Orleans Pelicans.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo in action for the Bucks on December 21, 2019
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