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Harden scores 31 points, Rockets beat Thunder for 3-2 first-round playoff series lead

The Rockets can advance to the conference semifinals with a victory Monday.
Credit: AP
Houston Rockets' Russell Westbrook, right, drives toward the basket as Oklahoma City Thunder's Nerlens Noel (9) and Chris Paul defend during the second half of an NBA basketball first round playoff game Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla — James Harden scored 31 points and Russell Westbrook returned to face his former team in the playoffs for the first time, helping the Houston Rockets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-80 on Saturday night for a  3-2 lead in the first-round playoff series.

The Rockets can advance to the conference semifinals with a victory Monday. Westbrook, who had played played just one game since Aug. 4 because of a quadriceps injury -- missing the Rockets’ first four playoff games -- had seven points, six rebounds and seven assists in 23 minutes.

Dennis Schroder led the Thunder with 19 points despite being ejected in he third quarter for hitting P.J. Tucker in the groin. Tucker was ejected for retaliating with a head-butt.