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May 24, 2017

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Cavaliers downed by Jazz

LOS ANGELES -- Houston star James Harden played down talk of being this season's NBA MVP after his latest high-scoring triple-double on Tuesday as the Cleveland Cavaliers stumbled to defeat against Utah.

Harden, one of several players excelling in a high-scoring season across the league, finished with 40 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists as Houston improved to 31-9 with a 121-114 win over the Charlotte Hornets.

The Rockets talisman came to Houston's rescue after Charlotte staged a dramatic fourth quarter fightback to take a shock lead.

Houston appeared to be cruising to victory after Corey Brewer's three-pointer gave them a 108-90 lead with around eight minutes left.

But Charlotte responded with a 21-2 rally which featured four consecutive three-pointers as the Hornets edged into a 111-110 advantage with just over two minutes to go.

Harden steadied the ship however with an assist for Ryan Anderson's three-pointer before adding two layups to settle Houston's nerves.

Harden's late intervention to secure the game capped another performance likely to ensure he remains firmly in the conversation for NBA MVP.

The 27-year-old however said he is not thinking about personal glory as he spearheads Houston's drive towards the postseason.

"As long as I play the right way and be unselfish and we win games, all of that is going to come," Harden said of MVP speculation.

"I don't really put too much into that or think about it too much. If it happens it happens. The most important thing is winning."

In Salt Lake City, LeBron James scored a game-high 29 points it was not enough to prevent the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers slipping to defeat against the Jazz, who improved 24-16 with the win.

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