James Harden’s Rockets again out-duel Russell Westbrook’s Thunder in MVP showdown: NBA Playoffs round-up

James Harden scored 35 points and the Houston Rockets overcame 51 points from Russell Westbrook in the highest-scoring triple-double in play-off history, beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 115-111 on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round Western Conference play-off series.

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, left, goes up against Houston Rockets guard James Harden during the first half of Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference Playoffs first-round game. Larry W Smith / EPA
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HOUSTON, Texas // James Harden scored 35 points and the Houston Rockets overcame 51 points from Russell Westbrook in the highest-scoring triple-double in play-off history, beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 115-111 on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round Western Conference play-off series.

Westbrook set a franchise play-off scoring record and added 13 assists and 10 rebounds. It was the sixth career play-off triple-double for Westbrook, who had an NBA-record 42 in the regular season.

But he shot just 4 for 18 in the fourth quarter as the Rockets clawed back from a double-digit deficit to surge ahead before holding on.

Game 3 is Friday night in Oklahoma City.

The game was tied before Houston scored 10 straight points with 3-pointers from Harden, Patrick Beverley and Eric Gordon to make it 114-104 with 1:22 remaining. Westbrook had four straight points to start a 7-1 run after that, but the Thunder wouldn’t get any closer.

Warriors 110, Trail Blazers 81

Stephen Curry scored 19 points on an off night in Oakland, JaVale McGee sparked Golden State off the bench with 15 points, and the short-handed Warriors beat Portland in Game 2 of their first-round play-off series without injured leading scorer Kevin Durant.

McGee shined on a night none of the usual stars found their consistent shooting strokes. The backup big man made all seven of his field-goal attempts and delivered several more of his signature alley-oop dunks as Durant watched with a strained left calf he hurt in the play-off opener Sunday.

Draymond Green had another fantastic all-around game, getting 12 rebounds, 10 assists, six points and three more blocked shots after swatting five in Sunday’s win.

Curry went 6 for 18 and also had six assists and six rebounds. Klay Thompson was 6 of 17 with 16 points and CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard were hardly were the dynamic scoring duo for Portland they’d been combining for 75 points only three days earlier.

Wizards 109, Hawks 101

In a rough-and-tumble, foul-filled game in Washington, Bradley Beal took over in the fourth quarter with 16 of his 31 points, including a key late 3-pointer, helping Washington beat Atlanta for a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.

John Wall earned chants of “M-V-P!” while finishing with 32 points and nine assists, including the dish to Beal for his shot from beyond the arc with 38 seconds remaining that sealed the win for the hosts.

Washington, which trailed 78-74 entering the final period, won despite only a combined seven points from starting forwards Markieff Morris and Otto Porter Jr., who were both in foul trouble early.

The series now shifts to Atlanta for Game 3 on Saturday.

Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 27 points and 10 rebounds, and Dennis Schroder scored 23 points. But Dwight Howard had only seven rebounds, half his Game 1 total, and six points.

* Associated Press

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