Rockets Take Game 5

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James Harden, despite his repeated insistence, did a poor job convincing the media that he was indeed all right, not with the occasional cough interrupting his postgame press conference and the surprising revelation that he required intravenous fluids earlier Tuesday to combat an illness that sapped his vitality

SCORE: ROCKETS 124, CLIPPERS 103

On the court, the Rockets guard was as convincing as ever, teaming with center Dwight Howard to deliver Houston a 124-103, series-salvaging victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals at Toyota Center.

RELATED: Playoff results, schedule

Harden produced a triple-double of 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists while logging a postseason-high 42 minutes. Howard, meanwhile, spearheaded the interior assault with 20 points and 15 rebounds as the Rockets forced a return trip to Los Angeles for Game 6 on Thursday night at Staples Center by thriving in the paint.

Houston posted 64 points in the paint and attacked the Clippers with purpose.

“We weren’t aggressive enough (earlier in the series). The first four games we were timid,” Harden said. “We made a conscious effort to go in there and be in attack mode. Dwight did a good job, especially in that first quarter, of putting pressure on the rim.”

The Clippers still lead the best-of-seven series three games to two. If the Rockets can even the series Thursday, a decisive Game 7 would be played Sunday back in Houston

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