Kemba Walker put up 40 points but James Harden and his Houston Rockets proved too strong in a 118-106 victory.

Houston won their ninth straight game with Harden scoring 28 points and Eric Gordon adding 22 to cement their third spot in the Western Conference.

Walker also had 10 rebounds and seven assists as the Hornets lost their second in a row and are 1.5 games behind the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.

A hard-fought battle between the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers spilled over with two players ejected for fighting.

The Cavs took the win 126-101 with Collin Sexton scoring 28 points and Kevin Love 16, but Toronto’s Serge Ibaka and Marquese Chriss were ejected after exchanging punches in the third quarter.

Russell Westbrook was two assists short of a triple-double – 23 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists – as the Okalahoma City Thunder beat the Utah Jazz 98-89, while the Los Angeles Clippers crushed the Boston Celtics 140-115 thanks to 34 bench points from Lou Williams.

Elsewhere, the Brooklyn Nets beat the Detroit Pistons 103-75 and the Washington Wizards rallied to see off the Sacramento Kings 121-115.