Rockets edge Mavs 130-128 in playoffs
Houston’s Jame s Harden and Dwight Howard set personal playoff bests in points and rebounds respectively as the Rockets edged Dallas 130- 128 on Friday to take a 3- 0 lead in the all- Texan NBA first- round playoff series.
The Rockets moved within one win of a berth in the last eight of the playoffs, as did Washington with a close- fought win over Toronto, while San Antonio took the advantage in its playoff series by cruising past the Los Angeles Clippers.
Harden scored 42 points in a dominating role after deferring to Howard and role players in the first two wins. Howard dominated the boards, pulling in 26 rebounds.
The high- scoring game was Dallas’ first without effectively banished point guard Rajon Rondo, and Monta Ellis had a playoff career- high 34 points to match Dirk Nowitzki.
Ellis missed a potential tying jumper just before the buzzer, leaving Dallas to face a fourth straight year without winning a postseason series since taking the franchise’s first championship.
Game 4 is Sunday at Dallas. No team has ever rallied from a 3- 0 deficit to win an NBA postseason series.
That unlikely challenge now also faces Toronto after Washington went ahead 3- 0 with a 106- 99 victory over the Raptors.
John Wall had 19 points and 15 assists and 37- year- old Paul Pierce hit two key late 3- pointers for the Wizards.
Six Wizards scored in double figures, including Marcin Gortat, who had 24 points and 13 rebounds. Pierce’s 18 points were highlighted by a 3- pointer that capped a 10- 2 run with 2 minutes left, and another with 16.3 seconds remaining after Toronto got within three points.
Washington can clinch the series when its hosts Game 4 on Sunday.
Toronto was paced by DeMar DeRozan, who scored a team playoff- record 20 points in the first quarter and 32 overall, and the Raptors led by 10 points early. But the Raptors were too inconsistent, just as they have been all series.
San Antonio led from start to finish in a surprisingly comfortable 100-73 win against the Clippers, going up 2-1 in the series.
Kawhi Leonard had a postseason career- high 32 points while Boris Diaw had 15 points and Danny Green added 11 for the Spurs, who led by as many as 37 points after two close games in Los Angeles.
The Clippers scored a franchise postseason low and their 11 points in the third were their fewest in any quarter this season.
Blake Griffin had 14 points and 10 rebounds and DeAndre Jordan added 10 points for the Clippers.
Griffin averaged 27.5 points on 47 percent shooting in the first two games, but was held to 6-for-15 shooting against a collapsing Spurs’ defense in Game 3.
Houston Rockets’ Dwight Howard, top, dunks the ball in front of, from left to right, Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki, Al-Farouq Aminu #7 and Amar’e Stoudemire #1 in the second half of Game 3 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series on Friday, April 24.