James Harden scores 37 as Rockets outlast Blazers

Cesar Tordesillas – 4E Sports Contributor

Portland, OR, United States (4E Sports) – James Harden scored 37 to lift the Houston Rockets to a 121-116 overtime win over the Portland Trail Blazers Friday at Moda Center.

Dwight Howard added 24 points and 14 rebounds for the Rockets, who cut their deficit to 2-1 in their Western Conference first round series.

The Rockets raced to a 9-0 lead but needed a 9-4 run courtesy of James Harden and Jeremy Lin to take a 35-24 advantage.

The Blazers started the second quarter with an 18-3 blast to overtake the Rockets, 42-38 at 7:16, before the Rockets came alive and answered with a 10-3 run to regain the lead at 48-45.

Nicolas Batum scored nine in a 10-4 burst that gave the Blazers a 55-54 lead at the half.

With the game tied at 65, Harden and Chandler Parsons made consecutive 3-pointers to give the Rockets a 71-65 lead midway through the third period. A Robin Lopez jumper cut it to 81-78 entering the fourth.

The Rockets surged to a 90-80 lead before the Blazers used 8-2 and 11-3 runs to close in at 103-101 with 4:05 left.

Then free throws by Mo Williams and a layup by Lillard put Houston up 107-106.

After Harden made four straight free throws, Batum answered with a 3-pointer to send the game to overtime.

The Blazers took 116-112 lead with 3:08 left in overtime, but jumpers by Jeremy Lin and Harden tied it with 1:51 to go.

Batum, Aldridge, and Lillard missed before rookie Troy Daniels hit a 3-pointer with 11.9 seconds and Harden converted his free throws following a foul to secure the win.

The Blazers were led by Lillard with 30 points and Aldrige with 23.

Game 4 is scheduled for Sunday at the Moda Center.

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