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Harden's Career High Leads Thunder To Win Over Suns

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OKC’s James Harden was firing on all cylinders finishing with a new career high of 40 points to go with seven rebounds in the Thunder’s 109-97 victory. (AP Photo) OKC’s James Harden was firing on all cylinders finishing with a new career high of 40 points to go with seven rebounds in the Thunder’s 109-97 victory. (AP Photo)
PHOENIX, Arizona -

It was a shootout in Phoenix Tuesday night-- that was until Oklahoma City's James Harden entered the game, and he couldn't miss.

Harden came off the bench to set a new career high and lead all scorers with 40 points off 12-of-17 shooting from the field en route to the Thunder's 109-97 win over the Suns.

Kevin Durant added a double-double with 29 points and 11 rebounds as Oklahoma City held Phoenix to 41 percent shooting from the floor.

The Suns' fast pace tempo and 3-of-6 shooting from 3-point range gave them an early 21-8 lead, but that soon changed thanks in a big part to Harden.

The Thunder's sixth man came off the bench to score 10 points in his first four minutes of play as OKC went on a 16-2 run to take the lead with 1:23 left in the first quarter off a 17 foot jumper by Harden.

Despite Phoenix' strong start from behind the arc, the Suns fell to 4-of-11 from 3-point range by the half. At that point, Oklahoma City held a 52-45 advantage.

The third quarter saw Harden go 4-of-5 from 3-point range and was highlighted by a swift pass from Durant to Derek Fisher for the buzzer-beating two pointer to end the third with the Thunder on the high side at 82-77.

After starting the fourth quarter with a jumper from the elbow, Harden tied his career-high with 33 points on a crossover layup down the lane to give OKC a 10 point lead.

Harden outscored the entire Phoenix bench who tallied 35 points. He finished with 12-of-17 shooting from the floor, 5-of-8 from 3-point range, 11-of-11 from the free throw line to go with seven rebounds, three assists and four steals. Harden's previous career high was 33 against Charlotte earlier this season.

Jared Dudley led the way for the Suns scoring 21 points. Channing Frye added 13 points and eight rebounds while Steve Nash had 12 points and five turnovers.

Phoenix's loss, coupled with Utah's' victory over Portland, moved the Jazz a half-game ahead of the Suns for the West's eighth and final playoff spot.

As a team, OKC managed 45 percent shooting from the field and went 6-of-16 from the field. Russell Westbrook finished with 15 points.

The win moves Oklahoma City to 45-17 on the year meaning the Thunder has clinched no worse than the No. 2 spot in the West.

The Thunder continues its road trip with Friday's game at Sacramento. Tipoff is set for 9 p.m.

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