James Harden scored 37 points to lift the Houston Rockets to a 123-108 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round series on Tuesday night near Orlando.
Harden shot 12 of 22 from the field and added 11 rebounds.
Without Russell Westbrook for the fifth time in six games, the Rockets had few problems getting going offensively, combining for 76 points in the second and third quarters.
That offense came from some usual suspects, like Harden, and the unusual.
After struggling from the field in the second quarter, going 2 of 7 from the floor and missing all four of his 3-point attempts, Harden turned the corner in the third to help the Rockets extend the lead once again after the Thunder cut what was once a 21-point lead down to 10 four minutes into the third.
But the Rockets finished the quarter with a 26-15 run which included six 3-pointers, three by Harden, to take control for good.
Houston finished with 20 3-pointers, six by Harden.
Eric Gordon, filling in for Westbrook, had 14 of his 21 points in the second quarter.
Jeff Green scored 22 points off the bench while Ben McLemore, making his first playoff appearance in his seventh season, added 14 points.
Houston's bench combined for 42 points, and the Rockets had 25 assists.
When Harden went to the bench late in the first quarter, the Rockets extended their six-point lead to 13 by the time he returned.
Danilo Gallinari led the Thunder with 29 points. Chris Paul, who was traded from Houston to Oklahoma City for Westbrook in the offseason, added 20 after missing all five of his first-quarter shots. Paul also contributed 10 rebounds and nine assists.
Steven Adams had 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Thunder.
Westbrook is sidelined due to a strained right quadriceps.
Before the game, Houston coach Mike D'Antoni said Westbrook was healing, but there was no timetable for the guard's return.
"Can't rule anything out," D'Antoni said, "but don't rule anything in."
Thunder rookie Luguentz Dort missed his second consecutive game with a right knee sprain. Terrance Ferguson started in Dort's place and scored six points.
--Field Level Media
|Danilo Gallinari 29||Scoring||James Harden 37|
|Chris Paul 9||Assists||Danuel House Jr. 5|
|Steven Adams 12||Rebounds||James Harden 11|
|Danilo Gallinari 9||Free Throws Made||James Harden 7|
|Chris Paul 2||Steals||Bruno Caboclo 1|
|Danilo Gallinari 1||Blocks||Robert Covington 1|