HOUSTON—James Harden scored 35 points as the Houston Rockets overcame 51 points from Russell Westbrook in the highest-scoring triple-double in playoff history, beating the Oklahoma City Thunder, 115-111, on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round Western Conference playoff series.
Westbrook set a franchise playoff scoring record and added 13 assists and 10 rebounds. It was the sixth career playoff triple-double for Westbrook, who had a National Basketball Association-record 42 in the regular season.
But he shot just four for 18 in the fourth quarter as the Rockets clawed back from a double-digit deficit to surge ahead.
The game was tied before Houston scored 10 straight points with three-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.
This was a much different game than the series opener, when Houston routed the Thunder 118-87. On Wednesday night Houston trailed by as many as 15 and didn’t take a lead until the fourth quarter.
The Rockets benefited from a balanced scoring attack, with Lou Williams adding 21, Gordon scoring 22 off the bench and Game One star Beverley chipping in 15.
The Rockets used a big run early in the fourth quarter to go on top for the first time in the game with about eight minutes remaining. Harden’s three about three minutes later made it 104-100.
Andre Roberson added a tip-in lay-up for the Thunder before two free throws by Westbrook tied it at 104-all with about three minutes left.
The Thunder led by three entering the fourth quarter and scored the first five points of the period, highlighted by a three-pointer from Doug McDermott, to make it 94-86.
Oklahoma City went more than three minutes without scoring to allow Houston to take the lead. The Thunder had missed seven straight shots when Westbrook got them back on track with a lay-up with about eight minutes left.
The Thunder led by seven with about nine minutes left in the third quarter before Westbrook made four quick points to extend the lead to 79-68. Houston scored the next six points, but Oklahoma City answered with seven points in a row after that, with five from Westbrook, to extend the lead to 86-74 with about three minutes left in the quarter.
The Thunder led by as many as 15 points in the first half, but Houston had cut the lead to 68-62 at halftime.
Stephen Curry scored 19 points on an off night, JaVale McGee sparked Golden State off the bench with 15 points, and the short-handed Warriors beat the Portland Trail Blazers, 110-81, in Game Two of their first-round playoff series on Wednesday night without injured leading scorer Kevin Durant.
McGee shined on a night none of the usual stars found their consistent shooting form. 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 playoff 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 six for 18 and also had six assists and six rebounds. Klay Thompson was six of 17 with 16 points and CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard struggled.
In a rough-and-tumble, foul-filled game, Bradley Beal took over in the fourth quarter with 16 of his 31 points, including a key late three-pointer, helping Washington beat Atlanta, 109-101, 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 Three on Saturday.
Image credits: AP