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        === Thunder top Rockets in Harden's return to Oklahoma City ===
 
 Oklahoma City, OK (Sports Network) - It was a long day for the Houston Rockets
 and an even longer night for James Harden.
 
 Kevin  Durant scored  37  points,  while Harden  tallied  17  on just  3-of-16
 shooting  in  his return to Oklahoma  City, as the Thunder downed the Rockets,
 120-98, on Wednesday.
 
 "It  felt  good just to  be competing against those  guys and finally get this
 over with, to play here and get it over with," Harden said.
 
 Serge  Ibaka added  23 points for the  Thunder, who have won six of their last
 seven games.
 
 "Seeing  him  before the game and  in chapel just  in a different uniform is a
 little  different. We've  moved on past it,  man. We're happy to see him, glad
 he's  doing well out there in Houston but we wanted this win bad," Durant said
 of Harden.
 
 Following  Tuesday's home win against the Toronto Raptors, the Rockets flew to
 Minnesota  for Wednesday's  funeral for Alexandra "Sasha" McHale, the daughter
 of head coach Kevin McHale, before heading to Oklahoma City.
 
 McHale's  23-year-old  daughter passed away  Saturday after a long battle with
 lupus,  an auto-immune  disease.  She  had been  hospitalized  with a  related
 condition.
 
 Harden,  who did go  9-of-11 from the foul line, was in the middle of a heated
 exchange with Oklahoma City backup center Hasheem Thabeet in the second.
 
 Thabeet  and  Harden traded words  after Harden  was blocked twice by Thabeet.
 Thabeet  was tossed  for bumping into referee Marc Davis, but the ejection was
 rescinded to a technical foul following instant replay.
 
 The  OKC faithful  gave Thabeet  a standing  ovation when  he returned  to the
 Thunder  bench  and booed  vehemently when  Harden sunk  the technical for his
 first point of the game at the 8:54 mark of the second quarter.
 
 Harden  ended the  half  with three  points  and misfired  on  his first  nine
 shots   --  0-of-8  in  the  opening  half.  His  layup  early  in  the  third
 finally gave him his first field goal.
 
 After the Thunder were unable to work out an extension with Harden in October,
 they  sent the reigning  Sixth Man of the Year to the Rockets, along with Cole
 Aldrich,  Daequan  Cook and Lazar Hayward,  for guards Kevin Martin and Jeremy
 Lamb, two first-round picks and a second-round selection.
 
 "One  minute, I  was at dinner with  my family. The next minute, I'm headed to
 Houston," Harden said. "It happened pretty quick."
 
 Harden agreed to a maximum contract worth $80 million with the Rockets.
 
 Patrick  Patterson had  27  points  for Houston,  which  has  gone 4-5  during
 McHale's absence.
 
 Cook's  jumper  and 3-pointer gave  the Rockets a  19-14 lead, but the Thunder
 countered with an 22-6 run.
 
 The  Thunder,  who led  27-25 after a  quarter of play,  netted the first nine
 points of the second as a pair of Durant free throws capped the surge and made
 it  36-25. The  margin swelled to as many  as 18 before the hosts took a 57-45
 edge into the break.
 
 Oklahoma City took an 86-74 advantage into the fourth and led by double digits
 throughout the final frame.
 
                                   Game Notes
 
 Ibaka  was 11-of-13  from  the  floor ...  Rockets  starting forward  Chandler
 Parsons  missed  the contest  due to  a shoulder injury  ... Harden, the third
 overall  pick  of the 2009  draft, averaged 16.8 points  and 3.7 assists in 62
 contests with the Thunder a year ago.
 
 11/29 02:29:34 ET

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