Harden takes charge as Nets outlast Pistons

    RISING: Nets star Kyrie Irving shoots over Pistons guard Delon Wright in first half action. REUTERS PHOTO

    JAMES Harden hit a tie-breaking layup with 97 seconds remaining, while posting another triple-double of 24 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds, as the Brooklyn Nets withstood a late challenge in a 100-95 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night (Sunday in Manila) at New York.

    The Nets took a 12-point lead into the fourth quarter before withstanding a Detroit comeback attempt. The Pistons briefly held a one-point lead when Mason Plumlee’s dunk made it 91-90 with 2:59 remaining.

    Harden then took over the final minutes.

    Harden hit two free throws to give the Nets a 92-91 lead with 2:08 remaining, drove on Plumlee for a layup that snapped a 92-92 deadlock, then hit a floater for a 96-92 advantage with 1:04 remaining.

    After a free throw by Detroit’s Saddiq Bey cut the Nets’ lead to 96-93 with 43.1 seconds remaining, Harden hit another shot in the lane as the shot clock was winding down with 19.1 seconds left.

    The Pistons still had a chance when Plumlee made a layup with 15.8 seconds left but Harden finished it off by hitting two free throws with 13.4 seconds remaining after Jerami Grant nearly intercepted Brooklyn’s inbound pass at midcourt.

    Harden’s ninth triple-double with the Nets, and clutch plays in the final minutes, helped Brooklyn improve to 12-1 since a 122-111 loss at Detroit on Feb. 9.

    In other games, it was the Bucks 125, Wizards 119; Knicks 119, Thunder 97; Pacers 122, Suns 111; Hornets 114, Raptors 104; Mavs 116, Nuggets 103; Blazers 125, Wolves 121; and Hawks 121, Kings 106.

    Bucks 125, Wizards 119

    Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded his second triple-double in as many games with 33 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, and eight Bucks scored in double-figures as Milwaukee survived against the Washington Wizards.

    The Wizards played without All-Star Bradley Beal, the league’s leading scorer who sat out the second leg of Washington’s weekend back-to-back due to a knee injury. But teammate Russell Westbrook picked up the slack.

    Westbrook matched Antetokounmpo with a triple-double, posting 42 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists, and led the Wizards with an energetic first half. They took a 12-point lead in the second quarter before Milwaukee battled back.

    Westbrook and Antetokounmpo became the sixth pair of opponents to drop 30-plus point triple-doubles in NBA history.