Rockets overcome Westbrooks’ 51 points, take 2-0 series lead

Russell Westbrook, of the Oklahoma City Thunder, goes up for a dunk defended by Trevor Ariza (partly hiden), of the Houston Rockets, in the second half of Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals game during the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center on Wednesay in Houston, Texas. (AFP)
Updated 20 April 2017
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Rockets overcome Westbrooks’ 51 points, take 2-0 series lead

HOUSTON: James Harden scored 35 points and the Houston Rockets overcame 51 points from Russell Westbrook in the highest-scoring triple-double in playoff history, beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 115-111 on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round Western Conference playoff series.
Westbrook set a franchise playoff scoring record and added 13 assists and 10 rebounds. It was the sixth career playoff triple-double for Westbrook, who had an NBA-record 42 in the regular season.
But he shot just 4 for 18 in the fourth quarter as the Rockets clawed back from a double-digit deficit to surge ahead before holding on.
Game 3 is Friday night in Oklahoma City.
The game was tied before Houston scored 10 straight points with 3-pointers from Harden, Patrick Beverley and Eric Gordon to make it 114-104 with 1:22 remaining. Westbrook had four straight points to start a 7-1 run after that, but the Thunder wouldn’t get any closer.Warriots 110 Trail Blazers 81: In Oakland, California, Stephen Curry scored 19 points on an off night, JaVale McGee sparked Golden State off the bench with 15 points, and the short-handed Warriors beat Portland in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series without injured leading scorer Kevin Durant.
McGee shined on a night none of the usual stars found their consistent shooting strokes. The backup big man made all seven of his field-goal attempts and delivered several more of his signature alley-oop dunks as Durant watched with a strained left calf he hurt in the playoff opener Sunday.
Draymond Green had another fantastic all-around game, getting 12 rebounds, 10 assists, six points and three more blocked shots after swatting five in Sunday’s win.
Curry went 6 for 18 and also had six assists and six rebounds. Klay Thompson was 6 of 17 with 16 points and CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard were hardly were the dynamic scoring duo for Portland they’d been combining for 75 points only three days earlier.
Wizards 109 Hawks 101: In Washington, In a rough-and-tumble, foul-filled game, Bradley Beal took over in the fourth quarter with 16 of his 31 points, including a key late 3-pointer, helping Washington beat Atlanta for a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.
John Wall earned chants of “M-V-P!” while finishing with 32 points and nine assists, including the dish to Beal for his shot from beyond the arc with 38 seconds remaining that sealed the win for the hosts.
Washington, which trailed 78-74 entering the final period, won despite only a combined seven points from starting forward Markieff Morris and Otto Porter Jr., who were both in foul trouble early.
The series now shifts to Atlanta for Game 3 on Saturday.
Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 27 points and 10 rebounds, and Dennis Schroder scored 23 points. But Dwight Howard had only seven rebounds, half his Game 1 total, and six points.


LIVE: Spain 1-1 Morocco - Spain strike back after early Khalid Boutaïb goal

Updated 9 min 10 sec ago
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LIVE: Spain 1-1 Morocco - Spain strike back after early Khalid Boutaïb goal

HALF-TIME: A mixed half for Morocco - they are creating chances and causing Spain problems in attack, But when without the ball they are under constant pressure, as the three yellow cards illustrate. Can they keep out Iniesta and Co. in the next 45 minutes? As it stands both Portugal and Spain are going thought, with Portugal beating Iran 1-0. A crucial next half coming up. 

SPAIN STRIKE: Iniesta and Isco celebrate the much-deserved equalizer. 

9.42PM: They may have been defending for long periods of this half, but they have always been comfortable on the ball and when they have got the chance to attack they have. A very well-worked move down the left ends with Ziyech having a decent shot from outside the box. They are doing themselves and their fans proud here. 

HISTORY MAKER: Take a bow Boutaib! 

 

 

9.33PM: Busquets has a great chance for Spain but heads wide from a corner. The Spainish are trying to turn the screw here, it's important Morocco get to half-time still level or you worry Spain may run away with it. Important nxt 10 minutes coming up. 

9.30PM: Spain, as expected, are seeing alot of the ball, while Morocco are seeing several yellow cards. The Morocco captain Moubarak Boussoufa rowing with the ref makes him the third Atlas Lion to go into the book — it's looking unlikely that Morocco will end this one with 11.

BRILLIANT BOUTAIB: The moment the Moroccan striker shocks Spain

9.23PM ANOTHER GREAT CHANCE FOR MOROCCO: Schoolboy defending by Spain gifts Boutaib another clear run-in on goal, De Gea does brilliantly to save and spare his side's blushes. Spain are being very adventurous here, there will be more chances you fancy for the Atlas Lions. 

9.17PM GOAL FOR SPAIN: That goal has given Spain a wake-up call. They come straight back. Iniesta atones for his mistake with a neat interchange with Diego Costa, before pulling back for Isco to finish from close range. Lovely goal.

9.12PM GOAL FOR MOROCCO!  Two of Spain's most experience players, Sergio Ramos and Andres Iniesta, both dithered on teh halfway line gifting the ball to Khalid Boutaïb who had a clean run in on goal. If he was nervous he didn't show it as he coolly slotted home past David de Gea. What a response! 

9.05PM: It has been a bright star for Spain, they are definitely not taking Morocco lightly. The Noerth Africans are chaing shadows at the moment. 

KICK-OFF: We're under way in Kaliningrad...

9.00PM: Should they lose this match, it will be only the second time Morocco have lost all of their World Cup group matches in a single campaign, having previously done so in 1994.

Whereas Spain have won their final group game in each of the last eight World Cup tournaments, a run stretching back to 1986.

8:50PM: Such is the support for the Atlas Lions in the stadium that is is almost like a home game. 

 

 

8:40PM: Morocco might be out, but that has not prevented plenty of their supporters showing up here in Kaliningrad. 

8:35PM: Starting line-ups...

Spain:
David De Gea; Dani Carvajal, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta; Isco, Thiago Alcantara, David Silva; Diego Costa
Coach: Fernando Hierro (ESP)

Morocco:
Monir El-Kajoui; Achraf Hakimi, Manuel Da Costa, Ghanem Saiss, Nabil Dirar; Noureddine Amrabat, Mbark Boussoufa, Karim El-Ahmadi, Younes Belhanda, Hakim Ziyach; Khalid Boutaib
Coach: Herve Renard (FRA)

Tonight's referee is Ravshan Irmatov from Uzbekistan.

8.30PM: So, after the dramatic late winner for Saudi Arabia in Group A, we move our attention to Morocco's final game of the 2018 World Cup. The Atlas Lions cannot progress, but could make like difficult for the former world champions Spain. The Spanish know nothing but a win will guarantee their progress at this tournament, and have named a strong side in their quest to get through.

Kick off is 20:00 KSA time.