The Associated Press

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HOUSTON — James Harden was quick to say yes when asked if he is playing at as high of a level as he ever has.

The follow up question of why was not quite as easy for Houston’s bearded star.

“I don’t know,” he said before letting out an awkward laugh and looking around before continuing. “Work. Try to study the game and get better. Listen to people around me that push me and motivate me and try to be the best I can be. It’s pretty simple.”

Harden had a triple-double of 35 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists to help the Rockets beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 117-113 on Thursday night.

Harden also had five steals and a block as Houston extended its winning streak to four games.

Harden has scored 30 or more points in three of the past four games, highlighted by a 56-point performance in a win over Utah on Sunday. It is Harden’s second triple-double of the season the 33rd of his career.

“I thought our guys really scrapped and competed,” Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said. “But Harden was Harden. He made some tough, contested 3s off the dribble, which we wanted. We contested all of them, but he made some big shots.”

The Cavaliers have lost six of their past eight games, leaving LeBron James, who scored 33 points, to answer question about why they’re struggling.

“We played a pretty good game, but I’m not here for moral victories,” he said. “That’s not what I’m about.”

Also Thursday:

Raptors 122, Pelicans 118: TORONTO — Kyle Lowry’s fourth and final 3-pointer of the night with 3:21 left put Toronto up 109-107, a lead the Raptors would not relinquish in its fifth straight win over New Orleans. The Raptors made a season-high 16 3-pointers.

Kings 109, 76ers 108: SACRAMENTO, Calif. — De’Aaron Fox made a 19-foot jumper with 13.4 seconds remaining to finish a 7-0 game-ending run for Sacramento. Joel Embiid missed a shot from the free-throw line as time expired for Philadelphia, which had its five-game winning streak snapped.

Wizards 111, Lakers 95: WASHINGTON — Washington managed to make a double-digit edge hold up against the Lakers this time, weeks after the Wizards blew a 10-point lead in an overtime loss at Los Angeles.

Nuggets 102, Thunder 94: DENVER — Emmanuel Mudiay scored 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead 3-pointer midway through the period, to lead Denver. Nikola Jokic had 15 points and 11 rebounds.

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