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Final score: LeBron James misses clutch free throws as Houston Rockets beat Cleveland Cavaliers in overtime, 105-103

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In a battle of MVP candidates, James Harden came out on top as LeBron James missed some very big free throws in overtime.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last couple of weeks, LeBron James has re-entered the MVP discussion. It is a discussion that, some say, has James Harden as the favorite. On Sunday afternoon, those two men met on the court for the first time this season (LeBron didn't play when their teams played earlier). Harden came out on top as the Houston Rockets beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in overtime, 105-103.

In the first half, the two teams played hard and gave us some pretty entertaining back-and-forth basketball. Neither team had a lead of more than six points in that half. Harden and LeBron each scored 15 points, and LeBron went vintage with one of his patented chasedown blocks:

Then, in the third quarter, Houston built a lead as the referees nearly lost control of the game. There was a double technical called when LeBron and Patrick Beverley got into it, a technical called on Trevor Ariza, a double technical on Tristan Thompson and Corey Brewer, and a flagrant foul on Harden, who kicked LeBron in his man region.

Early in the fourth quarter, with Houston ahead, the Cavs' second unit brought them back. James Jones hit a couple of big threes in the first two minutes of the quarter, and just like that the game was back on.

But, with Kyrie Irving missing his second straight game because of a shoulder injury, the Cavs just couldn't score enough down the stretch. With just seconds left and the game tied, LeBron missed a potential game-winning stepback jumper. And then with four seconds left in overtime and the Rockets up by a point, he went to the line to shoot a pair of free throws. He missed them both.

Overall, LeBron had a good game. He scored 37 points, had eight rebounds, four assists, three steals, and three blocks. But he was 15-of-35 from the floor, and just 3-of-11 from the line, including the two big misses in overtime that maybe would have given the Cavs the win.

Kevin Love had a solid afternoon (21 points, six rebounds), but he didn't touch the ball much down the stretch. Thompson had a really nice game off of the bench (14 points, 19 rebounds). But without Irving, LeBron had to carry much of the offensive load on his own, and he wasn't able to overcome the Rockets on this particular day.

For Houston, Harden was able to get to the line 18 times and he finished with 33 points.

The Cavs will host the Celtics on Tuesday, and hopefully Irving will be back for that one.