The contest at the Thunder’s Chesapeake Energy Arena had plenty of plotlines: Houston’s race for the Southwest Division title and Oklahoma City’s bid for the last Western Conference playoff spot as well as the battle between Harden and Westbrook for the regular-season scoring title.
Westbrook, who came into the game virtually tied with Harden for the scoring lead with an average 27.5 points per game, almost brought the Thunder back from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit.
His three-pointer with 3:12 to play knotted the score at 100-100, but Harden answered with a personal 8-1 scoring run to help the Rockets notch their seventh win in eight games.
Westbrook finished with his 11th triple-double of the season, totaling 40 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds, but he missed a three-point attempt as time expired that would have forced overtime.
The Thunder had 21 points and 17 rebounds from Enes Kanter and 22 points off the bench from Anthony Morrow.
But they have now lost three in a row and are just one half-game ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.
Dwight Howard scored 22 points and pulled down eight rebounds for the Rockets, who lead the Memphis Grizzlies by one game for the top spot in the Southwest Division.
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