DALLAS (AP) - James Harden scored a playoff career-high 42 points, Dwight Howard had his postseason best with 26 rebounds and Houston beat Dallas 130-128 on Friday night for a 3-0 lead in their first-round series.
Harden played a dominating role after deferring to Howard and role players in the first two wins, putting the Rockets on the verge of their first playoff series victory since Howard joined Harden two years ago.
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.
WIZARDS 106, RAPTORS 99
WASHINGTON (AP) - John Wall had 19 points and 15 assists and 37-year-old Paul Pierce hit two key late 3-pointers as Washington closed in on a first-round playoff sweep.
Six Wizards scored in double figures, including Marcin Gortat, who had 24 points and 13 rebounds. Pierce’s 18 points were highlighted by one 3 that capped a 10-2 run with 2 minutes left, and another with 16.3 seconds remaining after Toronto got within three points.
The Wizards lead the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series 3-0 and can end it Sunday, when they host Game 4.
Paced by DeMar DeRozan, who scored a team playoff-record 20 points in the first quarter and 32 overall, Toronto led by as many as 10 points early. But the Raptors were too inconsistent, just as they have been all series.
SPURS 100, CLIPPERS 73
SAN ANTONIO (AP) - Kawhi Leonard had a postseason career-high 32 points and San Antonio never trailed in dominating Los Angeles to take a 2-1 lead in their first-round series.
The Clippers scored a franchise postseason low and their 11 points in the third were their fewest in any quarter this season.
Boris Diaw had 15 points and Danny Green added 11 for San Antonio, which led by as many as 37 points after two tense games in Los Angeles.
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.
Game 4 is Sunday in San Antonio.
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