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Sports

Rockets fire McHale, edge Blazers in OT

Associated Press

HOUSTON – James Harden scored 45 points, including all nine for Houston in overtime, and the Rockets beat the Portland Trail Blazers, 108-103, on Wednesday night after firing Kevin McHale earlier in the day.

Corey Brewer made an off-balance three-pointer to force overtime and Harden took over from there, finishing with 11 assists, eight rebounds and five steals as the Rockets capped off an emotional day at the Toyota Center.

It almost ended with a fifth straight loss before Brewer made his shot with 0.9 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game at 99.

Playing just hours after McHale was fired, the Rockets played much of the game with sloppy mistakes and dreadful shooting. Interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff, son of longtime NBA coach Bernie Bickerstaff, served in his first game as head coach.

The Blazers dropped their seventh straight, their worst losing streak since closing 2012-13 on a 13-game skid.

In other results, Charlotte outlasted Brooklyn, 116-111; Orlando held off Minnesota, 104-101; Indiana smothered Philadelphia 112-85; Dallas thwarted Boston, 106-102; Atlanta downed Sacramento, 103-97; Oklahoma defeated New Orleans, 110-103; San Antonio overwhelmed Denver, 109-98; and Utah beat Toronto, 93-89.

Back in Houston, Damian Lillard led Portland with 23 points, C.J. McCollum had 19 and Al-Farouq Aminu added 16.

Houston snapped its longest skid since the 2012-13 season.

Dwight Howard hauled in 19 rebounds, Trevor Ariza had 18 points, and Brewer scored 16 off the bench.

After trailing 22-21 at the end of the first quarter, Portland outscored the Rockets 25-13, bringing the already thin Toyota Center crowd to silence. Rockets owner Leslie Alexander watched from the first row at midcourt as his seemingly uninspired team entered halftime in a 46-35 hole.

The struggles continued and the Rockets ended the third with a 15-point deficit after Marcus Thornton’s jump shot wedged awkwardly between the rim and the backboard.

Rockets 38-year-old point guard Jason Terry got his first start of the season, replacing struggling guard Ty Lawson, who was acquired from Denver in the offseason. Lawson finished the game with two points on 1-of-8 shooting.

AL-FAROUQ AMINU

BERNIE BICKERSTAFF

COREY BREWER

DAMIAN LILLARD

DWIGHT HOWARD

JAMES HARDEN

JASON TERRY

LESLIE ALEXANDER

MARCUS THORNTON

NEW ORLEANS

TOYOTA CENTER

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