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Rockets pick up crucial Game 3 win on road

Rockets 121, Trail Blazers 116

AP

James Harden found his shot, and Troy Daniels made his.

Harden scored a career playoff-best 37 points in Houston’s 121-116 overtime victory over the Trail Blazers on Friday night, narrowing Portland’s playoff advantage to 2-1 with Game 4 set for Sunday.

But it was the rookie Daniels who nailed a 3-pointer with 11.9 seconds to go that pulled Houston out of a funk from losing the first two games of the series at home.

“Means a lot to me that coach called my name,” said Daniels, who spent time in the D-League this season and didn’t make his NBA debut until March 5. “As a rookie, you never know when you’re going to play. That shows how much confidence he has in me.”

Dwight Howard added 24 points and 14 rebounds for the Rockets. Only three teams have come back to win after losing the first two games of a seven-game series at home: The last was the 2004-05 Mavericks, who came back against the Rockets.

LaMarcus Aldridge had more than 40 points in each of Portland’s victories in the first two games in Houston. But Omer Asik did a good job of shutting him down Friday night, holding the All-Star forward to 23 points. The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard with 30 points.

The Blazers hadn’t opened a playoff series 2-0 since 1977, when they got the early jump on the Lakers en route to the Western Conference title. Portland went on to beat Philadelphia for its lone NBA championship.

Bulls 100, Wizards 97

In Washington, Mike Dunleavy scored 35 points, one shy of his career-high, Jimmy Butler hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 24 seconds remaining, and Chicago defeated the Wizards, trimming the deficit to 2-1 in the teams’ Eastern Conference first round series.

Dunleavy went 12-for-19 from the field, including a career-high eight 3-pointers on 10 attempts, for the Bulls, who are attempting to become only the fourth NBA team to win a seven-game series after losing the first two at home.

Bradley Beal scored 13 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter for the Wizards.

Nets 102, Raptors 98

In New York, Joe Johnson scored 29 points, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett brought a charge to their first playoff game in Brooklyn, and the Nets earned a 2-1 lead in their first-round series.

Johnson made the clinching free throws with 3.1 seconds left after the Nets blew almost all of a 15-point, fourth-quarter lead. Deron Williams added 22 points and eight assists for the sixth-seeded Nets, who host Game 4 on Sunday night.

DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points for Toronto, which has lost 13 straight road playoff games. Patrick Patterson added 17 points but missed two free throws with a chance to tie for the Raptors, whose last postseason victory was May 6, 2001, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at Philadelphia.