LOS ANGELES (Agencies): The Brooklyn Nets fought back to beat the New York Knicks 116-109 on a night they reportedly signed James Harden.
US reports say Harden, NBA top scorer for the past three seasons, has left the Houston Rockets after nine years.
The 31-year-old was asked to miss Rockets training on Wednesday, having said that they were not good enough to be title contenders after Tuesday’s defeat at the Los Angeles Lakers.
Kevin Durant scored 26 points in the Nets’ win over the Knicks.
Star forward Durant, a former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate of Harden, led seven Nets players in double figures as they moved sixth in the Eastern Conference on seven wins and six defeats.
The deal for Harden – which has been reported in the US but not confirmed – is said to be part of a huge trade that also involves the Indians Pacers and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
As part of the trade, Houston would receive guard Victor Oladipo from the Pacers, guard Dante Exum from the Cavaliers and forward Rodions Kurucs of the Nets.
The Rockets would also get three first-round draft picks from the Nets, one unprotected 2022 first-round pick from the Cavaliers – via the Milwaukee Bucks – and the right to swap four first-round picks with the Nets.
After Tuesday’s defeat against the Lakers, 31-year-old Harden – the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2018 – said Houston were “not even close, honestly” to the league’s top competition.
James and Lakers win away (again)
Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference on Wednesday, Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded his 20th career triple-double with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as the visiting Milwaukee Bucks beat the Detroit Pistons 110-101.
The win leaves the Bucks second behind Boston Celtics in the east, while the Los Angeles Lakers, the Western Conference leaders, were helped by 26 points from LeBron James in a 128-99 win at the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The success means the Lakers have won their opening seven away matches in a season for the first time in their history. They remain favourites to win the NBA title this season and have now trailed for just 11 seconds in total during their last three games.
The Los Angeles Clippers moved second in the Western Conference as Kawhi Leonard scored 28 points, nine assists and six rebounds, in a 111-106 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Luka Doncic collected 34 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists to lift the Dallas Mavericks to a fourth win in a row as they proved too strong for the Charlotte Hornets, their hosts, in a 104-93 victory.
The Mavericks sit sixth in the West, a place behind the Portland Trailblazers, who won 132-126 at the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday.
Damian Lillard notched 40 points and 13 assists for Portland as they overhauled a 19-point third-quarter deficit to record a fourth win in a row and elsewhere, the Memphis Grizzlies earned a 118-107 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.