Harden helps Rockets stay alive, beat Warriors | Inquirer Sports

Harden helps Rockets stay alive, beat Warriors

/ 12:58 PM May 26, 2015

Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) shoots against Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut (12) during the second half in Game 4 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals Monday, May 25, 2015, in Houston. AP PHOTO

Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) shoots against Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut (12) during the second half in Game 4 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals Monday, May 25, 2015, in Houston. AP PHOTO

HOUSTON— Houston’s James Harden scored a playoff career-high 45 points to lead the Rockets to a start-to-finish 128-115 victory over Golden State on Monday (Tuesday, Manila time) to stave off elimination from the NBA playoffs.

The Rockets scored 45 points in the first quarter — equaling a playoff record — to quickly get on top. They were up by 22 in the second quarter when Warriors star and league MVP Stephen Curry landed on his head in a nasty spill and missed about 12 minutes before returning.

READ: NBA: Stephen Curry has hard fall in Game 4

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Curry’s first field goal after returning was a 3-pointer that got Golden State within six points with less than 8-1/2 minutes remaining. But Harden, who had 17 points in the fourth quarter, scored the next seven points as part of 10 straight by Houston to push the lead to 114-98 and effectively end it, cutting the series deficit to 3-1.

Klay Thompson had 24 points and Curry added 23 for Golden State, which had been looking to secure its first trip to the NBA Finals since 1975 after routing Houston 115-80 on Saturday night to take a 3-0 lead in the series.

READ: Curry and Warriors push Rockets to brink

The Warriors will try again at home in Game 5 on Wednesday (Thursday, Manila time).

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Houston bounced back from a 3-1 deficit to the Los Angeles Clippers in the conference semifinals. But they face a much bigger challenge in this series, as no team in NBA history has won a playoff series after trailing 3-0.

Houston’s Dwight Howard had 14 points and 12 rebounds, and received a flagrant 1 foul early in the third quarter after throwing an elbow at Andrew Bogut’s head. He would be suspended by accumulation of flagrant foul points if the NBA upgrades it to a flagrant 2 after review.

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The Warriors made 20 3-pointers and Houston had 17 to set an NBA record for most 3-pointers combined in a playoff game.

Curry was injured after he jumped in the air as Trevor Ariza was about to go up for a shot. Ariza saw him and stopped abruptly, causing Curry to be upended in midair when he crashed into Ariza’s shoulder. His head hit the court and it propelled him up and back onto the floor where he remained for several minutes.

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Curry looked dazed as he was attended to before slowly getting up and walking off the court.

TAGS: Eastern Conference Finals, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, James Harden, NBA, Stephen Curry

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