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Harden’s triple double lifts Rockets vs James, Cavaliers

Houston Rockets guard James Harden drives past Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dwyane Wade during the second half of an NBA game in Houston. AP

HOUSTON – James Harden was quick to say yes when asked if he’s playing at as high of a level as he ever has.

The follow up question of why wasn’t quite as easy for Houston’s bearded star.

“I don’t know,” he said before letting out an awkward laugh and looking around before continuing. “Work. Try to study the game and get better. Listen to people around me that push me and motivate me and try to be the best I can be. It’s pretty simple.”

Harden had a triple-double of 35 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists to help the Rockets beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, 117-113, on Thursday night.

Harden also had five steals and a block as Houston extended its winning streak to four games.

LeBron James had 33 points for the Cavaliers, and Jeff Green added 27.

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Elsewhere, Toronto held off New Orleans, 122-118; Sacramento stunned Philadelphia, 109-108; Denver ripped Oklahoma, 102-94; and the Washington Wizards ripped the Los Angeles Lakers, 111-95.

Back in Houston, the Rockets led by seven after a layup by James with about 10 minutes left. They scored the next six points, capped by a 3-pointer by P.J. Tucker to make it 111-98. The Cavaliers used a 13-1 run, with five points from James, to cut the lead to 112-111 with 90 seconds left.

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