Pacers hold off Rockets despite Harden's 45 points

Myles Turner and Justin Holiday scored 18 points apiece as the Indiana Pacers withstood a 45-point performance from Houston star James Harden Wednesday in a 108-104 NBA victory over the Rockets.

Orlando, FL - AUGUST 12: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets shoots the ball against the Indiana Pacers on August 12, 2020 at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida. David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images/AFP
The Pacers snapped a five-game losing streak against the Rockets -- who announced before the game that star guard Russell Westbrook was nursing a quadriceps strain that could jeopardize his appearance in the playoffs.

Harden did what he could to fill the void, contributing 11 of 14 Rockets points in a late-game surge that saw Houston cut a 104-90 deficit to 106-104 with 27 seconds remaining.

Indiana held on, Holiday draining two free throws to close out the victory.

Harden barely missed an impressive triple-double with 45 points, 17 rebounds and 9 assists. It was his 21st game in the pandemic-disrupted season with 40 or more points.

The win for the shorthanded Pacers -- who were without All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis, leading scorer T.J. Warren and starting point guard Malcolm Brogdon -- means Indiana clinched a top-five seed in the Eastern Conference and know they will face the Miami Heat when the first round of the playoffs begin in the NBA's "bubble" in Orlando, Florida.

The Pacers will also play Miami in the last of their seeding games on Friday.

Edmond Sumner added a season-high 17 points off the bench for Indiana, adding four rebounds and four assists.

"We had a number of guys out tonight," said Pacers head coach Nate McMillan - whose contract extension was announced earlier Wednesday by the team. "We were able to give guys opportunities and I thought they played well."

The Rockets will take on the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday, a game that Westbrook will also miss.

The Rockets said the injury would be reevaluated before the playoffs begin on Monday.

Westbrook has averaged 24.25 points on 43.9 percent shooting with 7.75 assists and 6.25 rebounds per game since the restart.

Topics: NBA , Pacers , Rockets , Harden
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