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Harden and Nets finish off Celtics to advance


Harden and Nets finish off Celtics to advance
Brooklyn Nets shooting guard James Harden (13) controls the ball against Boston Celtics shooting guard Romeo Langford (45) during the first quarter of Game 5 of the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center. (Reuters)

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NEW YORK – James Harden totalled 34 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds, as the Brooklyn Nets pulled away in the fourth quarter and closed out their Eastern Conference first-round series with a 123-109 victory over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday.

The second-seeded Nets won the series 4-1 and advanced to the conference semi-finals for the first time in seven years.

Brooklyn will face the third-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the second round.

Harden made 10 of 17 shots and posted his fourth career post-season triple-double and 11th by a Net.

Harden also posted the first 30-point triple-double in Nets history and joined Dallas guard Luka Doncic as the second player to get a 30-point triple-double in this year’s post-season.

Kyrie Irving added 25 points and Kevin Durant had 24 as the Nets shot 51.2 percent and made 15 of 32 tries from three-point range.

Jayson Tatum, who scored 90 points in the two games in Boston, led the Celtics with 32 points. He shot 12 of 27 from the field, as the Celtics sank 11 of 40 tries from three-point range.

In Denver, Nikola Jokic had 38 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, and hosts Nuggets overcame a playoff-record 12 treys from Damian Lillard to beat Portland 147-140 in Game 5.

Lillard finished with 55 points and 10 assists and twice sent the game to extra periods. It was the first 55-point, 10-assist game in NBA playoff history.

Monte Morris scored 28 points, Michael Porter Jr had 26 points and 12 rebounds, and Austin Rivers tallied 18 points and seven assists for Denver, which took a 3-2 lead in the first-round series.

In Phoenix, Devin Booker recorded 30 points, seven rebounds and five assists to help hosts Suns steamroll Los Angeles Lakes 115-85 and take a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference first-round series.

Cameron Payne added 16 points off the bench and the Suns led by as many as 36 points while notching their second consecutive win in the seven-game series.

LeBron James registered 24 points, seven assists and five rebounds for the Lakers, who played without Anthony Davis (groin).

Chris Paul of the Suns re-injured his right shoulder while battling for rebounding position with 6:47 left in the third quarter and did not return. He was officially ruled out early in the fourth quarter due to a contusion.