Rockets tip Clippers, spoil Griffin's return after surgery

– James Harden scored 34 points, Terrence Jones had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and the visiting Houston Rockets beat the Los Angeles Clippers 100-98 on Sunday to salvage a split of their four-game season series.

Trevor Ariza had 19 points and nine boards, helping Houston move within two games of idle Memphis for the Southwest Division lead with 16 games left on the schedule. The Rockets haven't captured a division title since 1993-94.

Chris Paul scored 23 points for the Clippers, but missed a five-foot fadeaway jumper at the buzzer. Blake Griffin had 11 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in 40 minutes in his return to the lineup after surgery to remove a staph infection in his right elbow. DeAndre Jordan had 20 rebounds.


•NUGGETS WIN AFTER 2OT: Will Barton scored 25 points, including the tying three-pointer late in the first overtime, and the undermanned Nuggets won their fourth ina row, 118-111 over the host New Orleans Pelicans in double overtime.

•WESTBROOK SLOWED, OKC WINS: Russell Westbrook had 36 points and 11 rebounds and the Oklahoma City Thunder held off the visiting Chicago Bulls 109-100. For only the third time in the Thunder's past nine games, Westbrook didn't record a triple-double, recording only six assists.

•LOVE RESTS: Cavaliers forward Kevin Love got the night off against the Orlando Magic. Cleveland coach David Blatt said Love "needed a little bit of rest." The Cavs won, 123-108.