Rock­ets edge Mavs 130-128 in play­offs

The China Post - - SPORTS -

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.

AP

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.

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