Harden leads Houston over Westbrook-fueled Thunder
OKLAHOMA CITY - James Harden led a postgame dance session in the Houston locker room.
He was happy after scoring 41 points to help his Rockets overcome Russell Westbrook's 40 — and 11th triple-double — in a 115-112 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday.
Harden, who bested one of his top challengers for the MVP award and silenced the fans who constantly booed him in the building where he once was beloved, scored 10 points in the fourth quarter.
"That's my job," Harden said. "It's what I do. I go out there and I take the big shots. My teammates did a great job the entire game of making shots, getting to the rim, just being in attack mode, being aggressive. In the fourth quarter, then, I've got to make shots."
Harden and Westbrook, the league's top two scorers, both entered the game averaging 27.5 points. Harden made 12 of 22 shots and six of nine three-pointers before fouling out with 33 seconds left. The Rockets hung on to win for the seventh time in eight games.
Westbrook finished with 40 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds. Enes Kanter added 21 points and 17 rebounds for the Thunder, who lost their third in a row. Their lead over New Orleans for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference was cut to a half-game.
•GEORGE INSPIRES PACERS: Paul George's season debut provided a needed boost for the Pacers as they put themselves back in the playoff contention with a 112-89 rout over Miami. George finished with 13 points in 15 minutes in his first action since breaking his right leg Aug. 1 in a Team USA scrimmage. Luis Scola scored a season-high 23 points to lead Indiana (34-43). The Pacers moved into a tie with Miami (34-43) for the No. 9 spot in the East. Both teams trail Boston by one game for the conference's final playoff spot. Miami was led by Dwyane Wade with 27 points.
•JAMES DOMINATES: LeBron James recorded his first triple-double since coming home, and the Cleveland Cavaliers made 16 three-pointers while winning their 18th consecutive home game, 99-94 over the Chicago Bulls. James had 20 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.
•SPURS COOL WARRIORS: Kawhi Leonard matched his career high with 26 points and set a career high with seven steals to lead the host San Antonio Spurs over Golden State 107-92, ending the Warriors' 12-game winning streak while extending their own to seven. The Spurs also extended their home winning streak over Golden State to 32. Tim Duncan had 19 points for San Antonio. Steph Curry had 24 points for the Warriors.
•KNICKS FINALLY WIN: Andrea Bargnani had 25 points and eight rebounds to lead the host New York Knicks over the Philadelphia 76ers 101-91, ending a nine-game losing streak.
•NEW LAKERS LOW: Blake Griffin scored 18 points, DeAndre Jordan added 16 points and 11 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Clippers sent the host Lakers to their franchise-record 56th defeat of the season, 106-78.