By KRISTIE RIEKEN
AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) - James Harden scored a playoff career-high 45 points and the Houston Rockets led from start to finish to avoid elimination in the Western Conference finals with a 128-115 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 on Monday night.
The Rockets used a 45-point first quarter to build a big lead. They were up by 22 in the second quarter when Stephen Curry landed on his head in a nasty spill and missed about 12 minutes before returning.
His first field goal after returning came on a 3-pointer that got Golden State within six points with less than 8 1/2 minutes remaining. But Harden, who had 17 points in the fourth quarter, scored the next seven points as part of 10 straight by Houston to push the lead to 114-98.
Klay Thompson had 24 points and Curry added 23 for Golden State, which can reach the NBA Finals with a victory at home on Wednesday.
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