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Eric Gor­don to make it 114104 with 1:22 re­main­ing.

“Down the stretch you’ve just got to be ready,” Gor­don said. “James draws a lot of at­ten­tion. So I was ready for that shot. It was great tim­ing to knock down a shot like that.”

West­brook had four straight points to start a 7-1 run af­ter that, but the Thun­der wouldn’t get any closer.

This was a much dif­fer­ent game than the se­ries opener, when Hous­ton routed the Thun­der 118-87. On Wed­nes­day night, Hous­ton trailed by as many as 15 and didn’t take a lead un­til the fourth quar­ter.

The Rock­ets ben­e­fited from a bal­anced scor­ing at­tack, with Lou Wil­liams adding 21, Gor­don scor­ing 22 off the bench and Game 1 star Bev­er­ley chip­ping in 15.

Hous­ton used a big run early in the fourth quar­ter to go on top for the first time in the game with about eight min­utes re­main­ing. Harden’s 3 about three min­utes later made it 104-100.

An­dre Rober­son added a tip-in layup for the Thun­der be­fore two free throws by West­brook tied it at 104-all with about 3 min­utes left.

The Thun­der led by seven with about nine min­utes left in the third quar­ter be­fore West­brook had four quick points to ex­tend the lead to 79-68. Hous­ton scored the next six points, but Oklahoma City an­swered with seven points in a row af­ter that, with five from West­brook, to ex­tend the lead to 86-74 with about 3 min­utes left in the quar­ter.

The Thun­der led by as many as 15 points in the first half, but Hous­ton had cut the lead to 68-62 at half­time. TIP-INS Thun­der: West­brook was just two re­bounds shy of a triple-dou­ble by half­time with 22 points and 10 as­sists. … Rober­son was Oklahoma City’s sec­ond-lead­ing scorer with 12 points. … Oklahoma City made just 7 of 30 3-point­ers.

Rock­ets: Hous­ton has won five in a row over Oklahoma City in­clud­ing reg­u­lar-sea­son games. … Capela had 10 re­bounds. .. Harden made 18 of 20 free throws.


Wed­nes­day was the 31st time this sea­son that Wil­liams has scored 20 or more points off the bench this sea­son. He is one of just four play­ers since 1993-94 to score at least 20 points off the bench at least 30 times in a sea­son.

“We looked like we needed some en­ergy, looked like we needed a spark and I think in the first and sec­ond half (the sec­ond unit) was able to do it,” he said. THEY SAID IT Thun­der cen­ter Steve Adams on what went wrong late: “We just weren’t tak­ing the great­est of shots, and they re­ally cap­i­tal­ized on that. It was a com­bi­na­tion of things and our men­tal stamina needs to be a lit­tle bet­ter.” UP NEXT The se­ries moves to Oklahoma City for Game 3 on Fri­day and Game 4 on Sun­day.


JaVale McGee has made a name for him­self catch­ing lob passes and re­li­ably slam­ming them home to the pure delight of his team­mates, and oh did those mat­ter for the short-handed Golden State War­riors as they moved one win closer to an­other NBA cham­pi­onship.

The typ­i­cally spot-on Splash Broth­ers weren’t hit­ting con­sis­tently. Kevin Du­rant wasn’t on the court at all, nor Shaun Liv­ingston.

McGee shined on a night none of the usual stars found their steady shoot­ing strokes and sparked Golden State off the bench with 15 points, and the War­riors beat the Port­land Trail Blaz­ers 110-81 in Game 2 of their first-round play­off se­ries Wed­nes­day night as Du­rant sat out in­jured.

“That’s my whole thing, I just try to be ef­fi­cient out there,” McGee said.

The backup big man made all seven of his field-goal attempts and de­liv­ered sev­eral more of his sig­na­ture al­ley-oop dunks as Du­rant watched with a strained left calf he hurt in the play­off opener Sun­day.

“Some­times we get caught up in look­ing for him too much when he’s not open be­cause we feel he can do some­thing spec­tac­u­lar above the rim,” Stephen Curry said.

Dray­mond Green put to­gether an­other fan­tas­tic all-around game, get­ting 12 re­bounds, 10 as­sists, six points and three more blocked shots af­ter swat­ting five in Sun­day’s win.

Curry went 6 for 18 for 19 points and also had six as­sists and six re­bounds. Klay Thomp­son was 6 of 17 with 16 points and CJ McCol­lum and Damian Lil­lard were hardly were the dy­namic scor­ing duo for Port­land they’d been com­bin­ing for 75 points only three days ear­lier.

Again, Golden State did it on de­fense -- hold­ing the Blaz­ers to 12 points in the third.

“Our of­fense got scat­tered, we were rush­ing ev­ery­thing. We were just not poised of­fen­sively and that put our de­fense in a bad po­si­tion,” coach Steve Kerr said. “I thought in the third quar­ter we set­tled our of­fense down which helped our de­fense.”

And now the War­riors own a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven se­ries as it shifts to Port­land for Satur­day’s Game 3, just as Kerr’s group did go­ing ahead on the Blaz­ers in last year’s Western Con­fer­ence semi­fi­nal won in five games.

“We’ve got to have this one,” Lil­lard said.

Mau­rice Hark­less scored all of his 15 points in the first half and the Blaz­ers gave up seven straight points to start the third as the War­riors were off and run­ning. Port­land played again with­out cen­ter Jusuf Nur­kic, and missed him. The 7-footer still isn’t 100 per­cent from a nondis­placed frac­ture in his right leg that side­lined him for the fi­nal seven reg­u­lar-sea­son games.

McCol­lum, who shot 16 for 28 to score 41 in the 121-109 Game 1 loss, scored 11 points on 4-for-17 shoot­ing. Lil­lard was 5 for 17 and held to 12 points.

“Com­ing in the first two games we just wanted to take one,” Lil­lard said. “We didn’t do that.”


WASH­ING­TON (AP) -Through the first three quar­ters of Game 2 of the Wash­ing­ton Wizards’ open­ing play­off se­ries, Bradley Beal made only 6 of 18 shots. And that came af­ter shoot­ing just 9 for 21 in Game 1.

Did all of those misses bother him? Not one bit. In­stead, he re­lied on a silly play on words that he says his agent taught him.

“It’s some­thing I al­ways tell my­self: I don’t know what a ‘miss’ is. A ‘miss’ is a ‘lady,’” Beal ex­plained with a smile. “Ev­ery­body’s con­fi­dent in me. Coach is more than con­fi­dent in me. So I just rise up and shoot it.”

In a rough-and-tum­ble, foul­filled game, Beal and back­court mate John Wall took over in the fourth quar­ter Wed­nes­day night, com­bin­ing to score 20 of Wash­ing­ton’s last 21 points in a 109-101 vic­tory over the At­lanta Hawks that gave the Wizards a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Con­fer­ence se­ries.

Beal fin­ished with 31 points, 16 on 6-of-9 shoot­ing in the fi­nal pe­riod.

“He’s a fran­chise guy, with me, also on this team. We need him to be the scorer for us,” Wall said. “We don’t care if he shoots the ball 30 times.”

Wall earned chants of “M-V-P!” while con­tribut­ing 32 points and nine as­sists, in­clud­ing a dish to Beal for his key 3-pointer with 38 sec­onds re­main­ing that sealed the win for the hosts. As soon as Beal let the ball fly, Wall raised both arms in cel­e­bra­tion.

“When he shoots it,” Wall said of that shot, “it’s game over.”

Wash­ing­ton, which trailed 78-74 en­ter­ing the fi­nal pe­riod, won de­spite a to­tal of only seven points from start­ing for­wards Marki­eff Mor­ris and Otto Porter Jr., who were both in foul trou­ble early.

“It was a tricky game to coach,” said Wash­ing­ton’s Scott Brooks, who avoided postgame crit­i­cism of the of­fi­ci­at­ing, jok­ing that he al­ready knew he would be get­ting a text mes­sage from his daugh­ter about a $2,000 fine he drew for a tech­ni­cal foul. Game 3 is Satur­day at At­lanta. Paul Mill­sap led the Hawks with 27 points and 10 re­bounds, and Dennis Schroder scored 23 points.

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