Rockets playoff bound after escaping ThunderApr 5, 2014 - 5:50 AM Houston Rockets to a playoff-clinching 111-107 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Kevin Durant matched Michael Jordan's career-long streak by scoring at least 25 points in 40 straight games. The Thunder star had 28 points, 12 boards and six assists, but he missed a potential tying 3-point shot in the final minute.
Chandler Parsons had 23 points and Terrence Jones contributed 16 points and 11 boards for the Rockets, who were without Dwight Howard (strained left ankle). They still managed to pick up win No. 50.
Serge Ibaka tied a career-high with 27 points to go with nine rebounds and six blocks for the Thunder, who rested Russell Westbrook since OKC played and beat the Spurs Thursday night.
Durant has a chance to break Jordan's streak, which goes back to the 1986-87 season, Sunday night at Phoenix. Durant last failed to score 25 or more points on Jan. 5 versus Boston.
"We were trying to be as physical as possible and making it as difficult as possible for him while being smart at the same time," Parsons said of Houston's defense on Durant. "We didn't want to get any cheap fouls. We didn't want to get him to the free throw line because he's pretty much automatic from the free throw line. Just wanted to be physical with him, make it tough, make him take long contested jump shots."
Harden made 8-of-11 foul shots in the fourth quarter, including a 4-for-4 effort in the final 23.2 seconds.
"It was a great win for us, especially since we wanted to get out of the three game losing skid we were on," Durant said. "Just to give ourselves confidence, especially going into the playoffs. We might see them. It was a big win for us, it shows the resilience that we have."
Durant's 3-ball had the visitors within 105-104, but Omer Asik sank two from the charity stripe with 38 seconds left after Harden's driving shot resulted in an air ball.
Another 3 from Durant had the Thunder within 109-107 with 16.4 seconds left, but Harden made two more free throws with 14 seconds left. After Durant missed another 3-point shot, the Thunder chose not to foul as the clock ran out.
"We didn't do a good job throughout the night defending without fouling," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "They got 37 free throws. We fouled three shooters in the fourth quarter and that is not what we need to do."
Houston scored 14 of the game's first 18 points and led 27-23 after 12 minutes. The Rockets were up as many as 14 in the second and held a 50-45 edge at the half.
Ibaka scored 12 in the third quarter when the Thunder surged back ahead. OKC went 14-of-22 from the field in the period, but saw an eight-point lead whittled down to 84-82 at quarter's end following Harden's driving jam.
Jeremy Lin started the fourth with a 3-pointer to put Houston in front, and the Rockets were up as many as six in the final period after a 7-0 spurt moved them to a 104-98 cushion on Francisco Garcia's 3-ball inside three minutes.
The Thunder won the season series, 3-1 ... Reggie Jackson had 17 points for OKC ... Asik had nine points and 12 boards ... Both teams were 13-of-31 from beyond the arc.
Apr 5 12:14 AM
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 84
End of 3rd
Apr 4 11:30 PM
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 45
Apr 4 10:43 PM
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 23
End of 1st
Apr 4 10:08 PM
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 0
1st Quarter - 11:42
Apr 4 9:42 PM
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