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Harden scores 42, Rockets lead Mavs 3-0

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

DALLAS (AP) James Harden deferred to Dwight Howard and his role players when Houston swept two games at home to open a first-round series against Dallas.

The MVP candidate took over in the game that put the Rockets on the verge of Harden's first postseason series victory with Howard in their second season together - even interrupting his big man on a question about the best rebounding game of the center's playoff career.

Harden scored a playoff career-high 42 points, Howard had his postseason best with 26 rebounds and the Rockets beat the Mavericks 130-128 on Friday night for a 3-0 lead in their first-round series.

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Wall helps Wizards go up 3-0 on Raptors

WASHINGTON (AP) John Wall drew choruses of "M-V-P!" from the crowd by producing 19 points and 15 assists, 37-year-old Paul Pierce hit two key late 3-pointers, and the Washington Wizards closed in on a first-round playoff sweep by beating the Toronto Raptors 106-99 on Friday night.

Six Wizards scored in double figures, including Marcin Gortat, who had 24 points and 13 rebounds. Pierce's 18 points were highlighted by one 3 that capped a 10-2 run with 2 minutes left, and another with 16.3 seconds remaining after Toronto got within three points.

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Leonard has 32 as Spurs roll by Clippers

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - Kawhi Leonard has a passion for playing defense, but the San Antonio Spurs forward does not want to be regarded a one-dimensional player.

So, a day after earning NBA Defensive Player of the Year honors, Leonard's offensive outburst helped San Antonio break the Los Angeles Clippers' "spirit" in a blowout victory.

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NBA: Curry was fouled on tying 3-pointer

NEW YORK (AP) Stephen Curry's tying 3-pointer could have been a four-point play.

The NBA says a foul should have been called on Curry's 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left in regulation Thursday night. Golden State went on to beat New Orleans 123-119 in overtime for a 3-0 lead in its series.

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Blazers' Afflalo probable for Game 3

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) Portland guard Arron Afflalo is expected to play Saturday when the Trail Blazers host the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 3 of their playoff series.

Afflalo has been sidelined with a right shoulder strain that kept him out of the first two games of the series, both Portland losses in Memphis. He was listed as probable by the team on Friday.

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Bulls F Mirotic uncertain for Game 4

MILWAUKEE (AP) Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic's bruised left knee is feeling better, though coach Tom Thibodeau is unsure whether the rookie will be available for Game 4 of the team's first-round playoff series at Milwaukee on Saturday.

The Bulls can sweep the Bucks following a 113-106 win on Thursday night. Mirotic sat out Thursday after getting hurt during a scrum for a loose ball in Game 2 this week in Chicago. Mirotic also strained his quadriceps.

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James scores 31, Cavs lead Celtics 3-0

BOSTON (AP) LeBron James got to the arena early. When he left the Cleveland Cavaliers had a chance to put an early end to the series.

James scored 31 points in his first playoff game in Boston since a masterful performance in the 2012 postseason. And Cleveland moved one win away from a sweep in its first playoff series in five years with a 103-95 victory Thursday night.

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Spurs' Leonard defensive player of year

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Kawhi Leonard is keeping some Hall of Fame company.

The San Antonio forward was selected the NBA Defensive Player of the Year on Thursday, joining Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players to win the award and the NBA Finals MVP.

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Silver on fence about intentional fouls

NEW YORK (AP) NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday he is "on the fence" about intentional fouling away from the ball and expects the league to be "very engaged" about the tactic over the coming months.

A day after the San Antonio Spurs sent the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan to the foul line 17 times in a playoff victory, Silver said he once favored a rule change but now isn't pushing for one.

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Grizzlies' Gasol looks to match brother

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Marc Gasol is a creature of habit, a player who embraces his daily routine and assesses what must be done next at the day's end.

The task at hand for "Big Spain," a nickname bestowed on him by teammates, is helping Memphis - yes, the Grizzlies - win an NBA title after helping them make their fifth straight playoff appearance.

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