Harden's triple double keeps Rockets alive, beat Clippers | Inquirer Sports

Harden’s triple double keeps Rockets alive, beat Clippers

/ 02:57 PM May 13, 2015

Houston Rockets' James Harden, center, is pressured by Los Angeles Clippers' Spencer Hawes (10) and Blake Griffin, right, during the first half in Game 5 of the NBA basketball Western Conference semifinals Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Houston Rockets’ James Harden, center, is pressured by Los Angeles Clippers’ Spencer Hawes (10) and Blake Griffin, right, during the first half in Game 5 of the NBA basketball Western Conference semifinals Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

HOUSTON — Houston’s James Harden shook off illness to record a triple double and lead the Rockets to 124-103 win against the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday that kept the series alive and trimmed the deficit to 3-2.

Harden lived up to his superstar billing, as did LeBron James, who led Cleveland to a 106-101 win against Chicago which put the Cavaliers up 3-2 and within one win of advancing in the playoffs.

Harden had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists and Dwight Howard added 20 points and 15 rebounds as the Rockets bounced back from two lopsided losses.

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“I’m all right,” Harden said when asked about his health. “We won, so that’s all that matters.”

The Rockets hadn’t lost three straight all season, and with their season on the line they ended their skid to send it back to Los Angeles for Game 6 on Thursday.

Houston used a 36-point second quarter to take a commanding lead and withstood a third-quarter surge by Los Angeles to lead by 14 entering the fourth.

Blake Griffin had 30 points and 16 rebounds, and Chris Paul added 22 points and 10 assists for the Clippers.

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“They were more focused,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “They played like they were the desperate team and we didn’t play very desperate.”

Harden’s triple-double was Houston’s first in the postseason since Steve Francis in 2004, and earned the respect of his teammates.

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“This is win or go home and I’m pretty sure he wants this as bad as we all do and he showed that tonight,” Howard said.

Trevor Ariza added 22 points for Houston and Corey Brewer had 15.

McHale toyed with the starting lineup after losses by 25 and 33 points, inserting Josh Smith in place of Terrence Jones. Smith finished with nine points and seven rebounds, while Jones provided a spark off the bench with 12 points.

“I just wanted to shake things up a bit and … see if we could get more ball movement,” McHale said.

In Cleveland, James scored 38 points and Kyrie Irving added 25 as the Cavaliers held off Chicago’s charge in the fourth quarter.

Showing no ill effects from a sprained left ankle, James added 12 rebounds, six assists and didn’t have a turnover in 41 minutes to ensure the Cavs will again play at home this season.

“LeBron was just outstanding, every element of the game,” Cavs coach David Blatt said. “You can’t pick a thing he didn’t do at the highest level.”

Cleveland can wrap up the best-of-seven series with a win in Game 6 on Thursday back at United Center in Chicago, where the teams exchanged buzzer-beating victories last weekend.

The drama wasn’t quite as high in Game 5, but it was close and it was intense.

Jimmy Butler scored 29 and Mike Dunleavy 19 for Chicago. Derrick Rose scored 16, 12 in the first quarter, but the star guard shot just 2 of 15 in the final three quarters and aggravated a shoulder “stinger” he sustained in Game 1.

Fueled by an altercation that led to the ejection of Chicago’s Taj Gibson, the Cavs led by 17 with 6:09 left and then had to hold off a furious comeback by the Bulls, who got within 101-99 on Butler’s 3-pointer with 1:18 left.

Cleveland, though, got a huge offensive rebound by Iman Shumpert before Irving, playing on a sprained right foot and sore left knee, made four free throws in the final 17 seconds.

The Bulls were missing big man Pau Gasol, who sat out his second straight game with a strained left hamstring and didn’t sound confident before Game 5 that he’d be ready by Thursday.

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They also played the final 10:25 without Gibson, ejected for kicking Cavs guard Matthew Dellavedova.

TAGS: Blake Griffin, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, James Harden, Lebron James, Los Angeles Clippers, Sports

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