HOUSTON -- James Harden faced the throng of reporters waiting at his locker and exhaled heavily after the Houston Rockets slipped by the New York Knicks on Friday night to end a two-game skid. "Its a huge sigh of relief," Harden said. "We found a way. It wasnt pretty. It wasnt the prettiest win, but at the end of the night a win is all that matters." Harden scored 37 points and Aaron Brooks made a pair of free throws with 17 seconds left to lift the Rockets to a 102-100 victory. The Knicks had a chance to tie it at the end, but Iman Shumpert missed a shot before Andrea Bargnani grabbed a rebound and dished it to Beno Udrih, whose running jump shot rolled in and out of the basket at the buzzer. Several Knicks put their hands on their heads in disbelief as they watched the ball spin out. Udrih and J.R. Smith both missed 3-pointers for the Knicks with under a minute remaining. Brooks grabbed the rebound on the second one and was fouled by Udrih to set up the game-winning free throws. Smith admitted after the game that he made a mistake in taking his shot, which came with 19.9 seconds remaining. "Honestly I thought we were down two when I shot the ball," Smith said. "I started hearing Tyson (Chandler) say: "No, no, no dont take the shot." But at that point it was already released ... it was just bad basketball IQ by me." Carmelo Anthony couldnt believe they had another play where they should have held the ball instead of taking an ill-advised shot. In a game last month against Milwaukee, Bargnani jacked up a 3-point attempt with 11.9 seconds left and New York up by two points in overtime. The Bucks made a shot on the other end to force a second overtime, but the Knicks were able to rebound for a double-overtime win in that one. "Yeah, yeah, it was kind of like deja vu," Anthony said when asked if that play reminded him of Smiths shot. New York coach Mike Woodson said Smiths miss was just one of many opportunities they didnt take advantage of Friday night. "We had our shots and I think we compounded it too by fouling instead of making them go through our defence," he said. Shumpert, who scored a career-high 27 Thursday night, led the Knicks with 26 and Anthony added 25. Anthony returned on Thursday night after missing three games with a sprained left ankle and tweaked it late in that win. He was still struggling with it Friday night, and winced almost every time he landed after jumping in the second half. "I think it was just the back-to-back and not giving it a chance to rest," Anthony said. "It was just aching at times, at moments throughout the game." Shumpert, who was 6 for 6 on 3s, hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to two points before Chandler hit two free throws to tie it at 100 with 1:02 left. Chandler finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Houston used a big run to start the fourth quarter and erase an eight-point deficit. The teams exchanged leads several times after that, but neither team led by more than a basket in the quarter before Harden scored five straight points to make it 100-95 with 2:23 remaining. Chandler Parsons added 17 points and 11 rebounds for Houston, Dwight Howard had 15 points and Jeremy Lin scored 14 against his former team. The Rockets opened the final period with a 10-1 run to take an 83-82 lead with about nine minutes remaining. Harden scored 11 points, powered by three 3-pointers, in the opening minutes of the second half to stretch Houstons lead to 61-56 with about eight minutes left in the third quarter. Anthony, who scored 45 points against Houston earlier this season, responded after that by making the first four points of an 8-0 run by New York to put the Knicks up 64-61. The game was tied at 66-all when New York scored seven straight to regain the lead 73-66. New York led 81-73 entering the fourth quarter thanks in part to 13 points by Shumpert in the third. The Knicks led by one with about 7 1/2 minutes remaining in the second quarter when Houston used a 10-2 run to take a 39-32 lead. Chandler received a technical foul in that span when he got tangled up with Howard and swung an elbow. Lin then made a nifty reverse layup and the ensuing free throw and Houston capped the run with an alley-oop dunk from Harden to Terrence Jones. New York got going after that, using an 11-2 spurt, with consecutive 3-pointers from Anthony, to regain a 43-41 lead. Parsons made a pair of free throws with seconds left in the second quarter to lead 48-47 at halftime. NOTES: Singer Paul Simon, who will perform with Sting at the Toyota Center in February, attended the game. ... Knicks F Kenyon Martin has a sore left ankle and did not dress for the game. ... Houston C Omer Asik missed his 16th straight game right thigh and knee injuries. Jamar Taylor Jersey
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. As deep as their roster is, they need their superstar. Rose scored 23 points in his return from a five-game absence due to back pain, and Chicago hung on to beat the struggling Atlanta Hawks 90-79 on Monday.CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Matt Ryan is as surprised as anyone that the Atlanta Falcons are tied for first in the NFC South with a 4-6 record.Hes certainly not complaining.Its been a different year, for sure, Ryan said. You play to be relevant in November and December. As quirky as this seasons been, were relevant.Ryan threw for 268 yards and a touchdown, Matt Bryant added four field goals and the Falcons held off a late rally by the Carolina Panthers to win 19-17 on Sunday.Bryants 44-yard field goal with 2:08 left put Atlanta ahead for good. Cam Newton threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes for Carolina, but Graham Gano missed a 46-yard field goal try with 1:27 remaining and had a 63-yarder blocked as time expired.The Falcons moved into a tie with New Orleans for the division lead after the Saints lost at home to Cincinnati 27-10.The way our season is going, were happy to have any win, Falcons defensive tackle Corey Peters said.Newton overcame two early interceptions and threw for 292 yards, but it wasnt enough for the Panthers, who have lost five straight and are 1-7-1 since starting the season 2-0. Itd be easy to say the Panthers are done, yet they still control their playoff destiny.Well, somebody is trying to give us a gift, Panthers cornerback Josh Norman said of the Saints loss. The craziest part about it all is were still in it.When asked if the Panthers still deserve to be in the playoff hunt, Norman replied, Does anybody in the NFC South deserve to be in it?The Panthers trailed 16-3 in the fourth quarter before a sluggish Newton started to heat up.Rookie Kelvin Benjamin made a juggling 22-yard touchdown catch in the left corner of the end zone to give the Panthers some life. Then another rookie receiver, Philly Brown, got behind cornerback Robert McClain and caught a 47-yard score as he fell back into the end zone to briefly give the Panthers a 17-16 lead.But Ryan moved the Falcons into field goal range, completing three passes for 29 yards to Harry Douglas to sset up Bryants clutch kick.dddddddddddd.I try to simplify things as much as I can, Bryant said.He often jokes that its like the golf movie Happy Gilmore: I try to go to a happy place.Everythings working out, he added, so Ill keep doing what Im doing.Newton still had something left, moving Carolina to the Atlanta 29. Gano then hooked the potential game-winner from 46 yards out wide left.The Panthers forced a punt and moved into Atlanta territory behind a pair of hook-and-ladder plays to set up a desperation try for Gano. But his kick was low and blocked by rookie RaShede Hagemen as time expired.I have to pull through and make the kick, Gano said. Thats what it comes down to. No excuses. Im not going to sit here and explain why I missed the kick. My job is to put it through the uprights.Roddy White, who had eight catches for 75 yards, caught a 4-yard TD pass from Ryan to give the Falcons a 16-3 lead.Things got heated after that.Devin Hester was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after knocking a Carolina player off the pile at the end of a play, igniting a lot of pushing and shoving. Two snaps later, Carolinas Thomas Davis stripped Hester and Luke Kuechly recovered, starting another brief altercation with Jacquizz Rodgers taking down Kuechly, although no flag was thrown.The day started off rough for Newton.After he was sacked nine times in Carolinas 45-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night, defensive Tyler Jackson raced in unblocked and delivered a helmet-to-helmet hit on the quarterback on Carolinas first play from scrimmage. Jackson was flagged for a 15-yard penalty, but Newton got up holding his chin.Newton didnt seem sharp until late in the game, but the two-time Pro Bowler said the hit didnt affect him.NOTES: Benjamin finished with 109 yards receiving for the Panthers. ... The Falcons are 4-0 in the division, beating Tampa Bay twice and Carolina and New Orleans once each.___AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
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