James Harden scored a playoff career-high 45 points and the Houston Rockets led from start to finish to avoid elimination in the Western Conference finals with a 128-115 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 on Monday night.
The Rockets used a playoff recordtying 45-point first quarter to build a big lead.
They were up by 22 in the second quarter when Stephen Curry landed on his head in a nasty spill and missed about 12 minutes before returning.
His first field goal after returning came on a three-pointer that got Golden State within six points with less than 81/2 minutes remaining.
But Harden, who had 17 points in the fourth quarter, scored the next seven points as part of 10 straight by Houston to push the lead to 114-98. Klay Thompson had 24 points and Curry added 23 for Golden State, which moved a win away from its first trip to the NBA Finals since 1975 after routing Houston, 115-80, on Saturday night to take a 3-0 lead in the series.
But the Warriors couldn’t put the Rockets away and will try again at home in Game 5 on Wednesday night.