analysis and more. 2017 NBA Playoffs

HOUSTON -- While Carlton Fisk #27 Youth Russell Westbrook was cursing on live television, saying he'd already answered a question about his shots and had heard that his coach said he got tired, James Harden was headed home up 2-0.The Houston Rockets point guard and MVP candidate didn’t have the better scoring line, but that was something Westbrook said he didn’t “give a f---" about, because the Oklahoma City Thunder had lost 115-111 on Wednesday night.Westbrook won the individual battle, scoring 51 points with 13 assists and 10 rebounds, the highest-scoring 50-plus-point triple-double game in playoff history. But he missed 14 fourth-quarter shots, the most missed shots in any quarter in the last 20 postseasons. Think about that for a moment. That’s more than Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce and Allen Iverson. Iverson is in the Hall of Fame. The others are headed there. As for Harden, he took only four shots in the final quarter, scoring seven points. But during a stretch late in the third quarter, he helped the Rockets rally from a double-digit deficit to get back in the game with a 12-3 run. Harden started a run with a 3 and ended it with another over the man who has been like kryptonite to him, Andre Authentic Glen Perkins #15 Youth Roberson.James Harden was the superstar with something to celebrate Wednesday, despite not winning the scoring battle with Russell Westbrook. Bob Levey/Getty Images “It was huge for us,” Harden said of the third-quarter run. “The entire game, they had us down, I think, double-digits, and we got it to six, and we never got it over that.”When the night was over, Harden had finished with 35 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds. He also had seven turnovers, more than anybody on the floor, but there were other people who contributed to the cause in terms of scoring.Eric Gordon and Lou Williams combined for 43 points, and Clint Capela played strong in the second half, finishing with 10 rebounds Kyle Seager #15 Womens and four blocked shots. Nene Hilario was, once again, a physical presence, grabbing five boards and scoring seven points in 25 minutes off the bench.NBA Playoffs 2017: Full coverageWe've got you covered all the way to the Finals with the latest news, schedules, analysis and more. 2017 NBA Playoffs The Thunder put pressure on Harden all night. It started with Roberson, and when Harden beat him off the dribble, Steven Adams, Taj Gibson and Enes Kanter were waiting for him at the rim. Houston would send two players to set screens to free Harden, but that didn’t always work. The spacing just wasn’t there.Harden admitted he was passive at times in the first half before changing his mindset in the second.“I think with the type of talent that James is, he does a good job of paying attention in the game,” Williams said. “He was needed at certain times in the game. I think he realized going into the fourth quarter that we weren’t going to survive without him. We need him to have big efforts, and I think in the fourth quarter he was able to provide that.”

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