James Harden

James Harden scored a career-high 40 points, including making 5 of 8 3-pointers, and the Oklahoma City Thunder dealt Phoenix a blow in its scramble to make the playoffs with a 109-97 victory over the Suns on Wednesday night.

Kevin Durant added 29 points and Russell Westbrook 15 for the Thunder, who stayed a half-game behind San Antonio for the top playoff seed in the Western Conference.

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.

Jared Dudley scored 21 points for Phoenix.

Harden, who starred at nearby Arizona State, made 12 of 17 shots overall and was 11 of 11 from the free throw line. The Thunder’s superb, bearded reserve played 33 minutes. His previous high was 33 against Charlotte on March 10.

– Reported by the Associated Press