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Harden helps Rockets stay alive in NBA Western Conference Finals

Published:Wednesday | May 27, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) grapple for the ball as guard Klay Thompson (11) reaches in during the second half in Game Four of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals on Monday night in Houston.

HOUSTON, Texas (AP):

Houston's James Harden scored a play-off career-high 45 points, while Golden State's Stephen Curry suffered a scary fall as the Rockets led from start to finish and beat the Warriors 128-115 on Monday night to stave off elimination from the NBA play-offs.

The Rockets scored 45 points in the first quarter - equalling a play-off record - to quickly get on top. They were up by 22 in the second quarter when league MVP Curry landed on his head in a nasty spill and missed about 12 minutes before returning.

Curry's first field goal after returning was a three-pointer that got Golden State within six points with less than 8-1/2 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 and effectively end it, cutting the series deficit to 3-1.

Harden's match-winning performance made up for a disappointing output in Game Three.

"I always want to take it out on my opponent in a good way," Harden said. "Just being aggressive, taking shots, getting to the basket, not really forcing anything and allowing the game to come to me."

Klay Thompson had 24 points and Curry added 23 for Golden State, which had been looking to secure their 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. The Warriors will try again at home in Game Five today.

Curry was injured after he jumped in the air as Trevor Ariza was about to go up for a shot. Ariza saw him and stopped abruptly, causing Curry to be upended in mid-air when he crashed into Ariza's shoulder. His head hit the court and it propelled him up and back on to the floor where he remained for several minutes.

Curry looked dazed as he was attended to before slowly getting up and walking off the court.

"It was all minor stuff compared to how it looked," Curry said. "But I'll get some good rest and be ready to go. Since it happened to now, nothing has gotten worse."

Ariza didn't realise who it was that sailed over him until the play was over.

"I was just trying to pump fake and get somebody off their feet," Ariza said. "I didn't know that he flipped over ... it wasn't intentional or anything like that."