NBA: LeBron James, James Harden, Russell Westbrook sparkle in triumphant efforts

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) drives past Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14) during the first half of their game on Dec 31, 2016.
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) drives past Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14) during the first half of their game on Dec 31, 2016. PHOTO: USA TODAY SPORTS

Washington (AFP) - Houston's James Harden scored a career-high 53 points, Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook achieved a first-half triple double and LeBron James sparked an injury-hit Cleveland squad in triumphant National Basketball Association efforts on Saturday.

Westbrook, the NBA's top scorer with an average of 30.9 points a game, needed only 19 minutes to reach double figures and finished with 17 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds in the Thunder's 114-88 home victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Harden, Westbrook's former Thunder team-mate, had a triple double of his own with 17 assists - matching his career best - and 16 rebounds in powering the host Rockets over New York 129-122.

Four-time NBA Most Valuable Player James scored 32 points, 17 in the first quarter, and had nine assists while Kevin Love added 28 points and 10 rebounds to spark the NBA champions over hosts Charlotte 121-109.

Westbrook, the only NBA player since 1997 to manage a first-half triple double, scored 11 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and passed off 12 assists to spark Oklahoma City to a 69-40 half-time advantage.

But Westbrook's 16th triple double of the season fell short of the NBA's fastest-ever triple double, achieved in only 17 minutes by Syracuse's Jim Tucker in 1955.

At Charlotte, Jordan McRae scored 20 points in only his second career start to ease the load on James as Cleveland was missing guard Kyrie Irving due to a tight right hamstring and reserve forward Mike Dunleavy with an ankle injury.

Kemba Walker led Charlotte with 37 points.

At Houston, Brandon Jennings led the Knicks with 32 points while New York star Carmelo Anthony scored only seven points before leaving the game with a sore left knee.

Greek star Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 35 points, Jabari Parker added 27 and Malcolm Brogdon contributed 15 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds for Milwaukee in the Bucks' 116-96 victory at Chicago.

Jimmy Butler scored 26 points in a losing cause.

French big man Rudy Gobert had 18 points and 13 rebounds while Gordon Hayward added 18 points to spark host Utah over Phoenix 91-86.

Mike Conley scored 22 points in his return after missing two games with a toe injury and the visiting Memphis Grizzlies ripped Sacramento 112-98 despite losing Spanish centre Marc Gasol with a left ankle sprain three minutes into the second half.

The Grizzlies netted a club-record 17 three-pointers, 11 of them in the third quarter, in improving to 22-14.

"When we're shooting like we were today, we're a very tough team," Conley said. "The ball was shared so much that guys got a lot of open looks."