EditorsNote: 2nd update, changes Thompson rebound total in 3rd graf; change in play by play in 9th graf
Cleveland rookie Collin Sexton scored a career-high 29 points in his eighth consecutive start, and Tristan Thompson recorded his third consecutive double-double as the Cavaliers defeated the visiting Houston Rockets 117-108 on Saturday.
Sexton, starting for the injured George Hill, shot 14-for-21 to lead a balanced Cleveland offense.
Thompson finished with 16 points and 20 rebounds, 11 offensive, and Jordan Clarkson came off the bench to score 20 points, grab five rebounds and dish out four assists.
Chris Paul had the night off for the Rockets. James Harden took over the point guard position, and Eric Gordon stepped into the starting lineup.
Harden was his normal self, scoring 40 points with 13 assists, but made just 7 of 12 free-throw attempts. Harden committed two free-throw violations on back-to-back attempts midway through the third, and the Cavaliers took advantage, opening up an 87-74 lead when Sexton scored on three straight possessions.
The Cavs, who are now 4-1 when leading after three quarters, took a 93-83 advantage into the fourth and seemed in control.
But Gordon, who came into the game averaging 13.9 points and just 24 percent from 3-point range, heated up. His 30-foot, 3-point jumper after a turnover by Andrew Harrison cut the Rockets’ deficit to 106-99 with 5:37 remaining in the game.
Gordon finished with a season-high 28 points and made 5 of 11 from beyond the arc.
After a technical foul on Cleveland assistant James Posey, the Rockets got within six at 106-100. But Clarkson hit two jumpers, and Rodney Hood connected on a 3-pointer from 25 feet and the Cavs were back up 115-104.
Both teams were playing the second of back-to-back nights. The Cavs were coming off a shocking upset win over the Sixers in Philadelphia on Friday night, while the Rockets were losing in overtime to the Pistons in Detroit.
The Cavs led 63-58 at halftime despite Harden scoring 24 and Gordon’s nine points and three steals.
Sexton had 15 first-half points, Kyle Korver added 12 off the bench and Thompson had eight points and 13 rebounds.