The Houston Rockets weren’t going to finish the season with a 66-game winning streak.

So it isn’t a cause for concern that the Rockets saw their 14-game winning streak come to an end in a 122-116 home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers late Wednesday night, a game that saw the Lakers get 38 points from rookie Kyle Kuzma and 21 off the bench from journeyman Corey Brewer.

The cause for concern was that Chris Paul limped back to the locker room early in the fourth quarter with an injury the team initially described as a “sore left leg.” After the game, Rockets Coach Mike D’Antoni assuaged some of the initial fears by saying Paul suffered an adductor strain, as opposed to another issue with his left knee, which has already sidelined him for 14 games this season.

It served as a stark reminder that for just how great the Rockets have been this season, their room for error in challenging the Golden State Warriors for NBA supremacy is razor-thin.

This, of course, is the risk in going all-in on a 32-year-old point guard, as the Rockets did in acquiring Paul last summer. But as Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey said, there was only one way to move forward in this era dominated by Golden State’s all-star quartet.

“We are used to long odds,” Morey said. “If Golden State makes the odds longer, we might up our risk profile and get even more aggressive. We have something up our sleeve.”


Two weeks later, Morey traded for Paul, stunning the NBA with a stealth maneuver even before the start of free agency.

Not surprisingly, having 48 minutes of Hall of Fame point guard play in D’Antoni’s system has made the Rockets into a terror for opponents.

Paul’s play, combined with Harden’s playing like the frontrunner for the MVP, has Houston looking like a team capable of not only finishing the season with the best record in the Western Conference but even potentially giving Golden State a run for conference supremacy.

Doing so, however, will require Paul to be healthy and able to continue wreaking havoc.

CAVALIERS: Cleveland assigned injured point guard Isaiah Thomas to its Canton G-League team so he can practice.

Thomas is nearing his debut with the Cavs after being sidelined all season with a hip injury, and full-court scrimmages are the next step in his rehab. On Wednesday, Thomas said he would be playing with the Cavs as early as next week, depending on how he recovers from intense practices. He dressed with the Cavs on Thursday night against Chicago but did not play.



CAVALIERS 115, BULLS 112: LeBron James scored 34 points, Kevin Love added 27 and host Cleveland won its 12th straight home game.

James had 11 points in the fourth quarter and dropped a pair of free throws with 11.1 seconds left as the Cavs won for the 19th time in 21 games and ended Chicago’s seven-game winning streak.

Chicago’s Denzel Valentine was short with a tying 3-pointer in the final second.

Cavs Coach Tyronn Lue missed the game with an illness.

RAPTORS 114, 76ERS 109: DeMar DeRozan scored a career-high 45 points and Toronto overcame a 22-point deficit to beat the Joel Embiid-less 76ers at Philadelphia.

DeRozan also set a career high with six 3-pointers. His jumper with 4:13 left put the Raptors ahead to stay after they trailed 76-54 early in the third quarter.

Kyle Lowry added 23 points to help the Raptors win their fifth straight and 11th in 12 games.

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