NBA Playoffs: Houston Rockets Stay Alive, Cleveland Cavaliers Outlast Chicago Bulls
UNDATED (AP) — The Los Angeles Clippers were unable to lock up their first-ever trip to the NBA's conference finals.
James Harden had a triple-double and the Houston Rockets forced a Game 6 in the Western Conference semifinals by downing the Clippers 124-103. Harden finished with a team-high 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists while helping the Rockets shoot over 54 percent.
Trevor Ariza shot 4-for-6 from 3-point range and finished with 22 points, while Dwight Howard delivered 20 points and 15 boards.
The Clippers never recovered after falling behind by 15 at halftime. Blake Griffin contributed team highs of 30 points and 16 rebounds, while Chris Paul added 22 points and 10 assists. But Matt Barnes and J.J. Redick combined for just 14 points on 4 of 20 shooting.
The series shifts to Los Angeles for Game 6 on Thursday.
Meanwhile, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving combined for 63 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers grabbed a 3-2 lead in the NBA's Eastern Conference semifinals.
James showed no effects from a sprained left ankle as he poured in 38 points to lead a 106-101 triumph over Chicago. James also delivered 12 rebounds, six assists and no turnovers in 41 minutes. Irving added 25 points despite playing with a sprained right foot and tendinitis in his left knee.
The Bulls trailed by 17 with 6:09 remaining before closing within 101-99 on Jimmy Butler's 3-pointer with 1:18 left. Butler had a team-high 29 points and Mike Dunleavy added 19 for the Bulls, who were missing Pau Gasol for the second straight game because of a strained left hamstring.
The Bulls received little offensive support from Derrick Rose over the final three quarters. He scored 12 points in the first quarter before adding just four more on 2 of 15 shooting the rest of the way.
The Cavs can close out the series on Thursday in Chicago.
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