Harden scores 41 to chip away at Warriors

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James Harden Warriors game 3 2019

HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden made a big 3-pointer in overtime and scored 41 points, and the Houston Rockets outlasted the Golden State Warriors 126-121 on Saturday night to cut the deficit in the Western Conference semifinals to 2-1.

A layup by P.J. Tucker put Houston up by three with about 2 minutes left and the Warriors missed shots on their next two possessions. That set up the 3-pointer by Harden with 49 seconds left that made it 124-118.

Kevin Durant made three free throws after that, but Harden added a layup to stretch the lead. Stephen Curry, who dislocated a finger in Game 2, missed a wide-open layup and Harden grabbed the rebound to secure Houston’s victory.

The Rockets withstood a 46-point performance from Durant and late surge by the Warriors to avoid falling into a 3-0 hole in the best-of-seven series.

Game 4 is Monday night in Houston.

Harden led the team despite recovering from injuries to both eyes he sustained in Game 2 when he was hit in the face by Draymond Green. He was feeling better on Saturday, but both eyes remained bloody red in spots.

Eric Gordon added a playoff career-high 30 points with a playoff-best seven 3-pointers for Houston.

Curry finished with 17 points after missing two layups in overtime. Green added 19 for the Warriors.

Houston was clinging to a one-point lead when Iguodala’s 3-pointer put Golden State up 112-110 with 45 seconds remaining in the fourth. Harden made two free throws a few seconds after that to tie it and Durant missed a jump shot on the other end to give Houston a chance to win it in regulation.

Chris Paul was in the lane when Klay Thompson forced a jump ball. Harden got the ball but didn’t have time to get a shot off before the buzzer to send it to overtime.

A dunk by Durant cut Houston’s lead to one midway through the fourth quarter, but Austin Rivers hit a 3-pointer for Houston soon after that to leave the Rockets up 108-104.

The Warriors regained the lead with about 3 1/2 minutes to go after five straight points by Thompson made it 109-108. But Paul put Houston back on top with two free throws soon after that.

The Warriors used a 15-2 run at the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth to take a 94-93 lead with about 10 minutes remaining. Durant was unstoppable in that stretch, scoring all 10 of Golden State’s points to start the fourth.

Tucker, Houston’s defensive stopper who had been on the bench with four fouls, re-entered the game to try and help slow Durant down.

Durant cooled off after that, but Iguodala and Thompson both made 3-pointers soon after that and the Warriors remained up by a point with about eight minutes left in the fourth.

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