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Oklahoma Sports

April 30, 2013

Rockets beat Thunder to avoid sweep

HOUSTON, Texas — The Houston Rockets finally found a way to close out a game in their playoff series with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

And it allowed them to escape playoff elimination with a 105-103 win over the Thunder on Monday night.

Chandler Parsons scored 27 points and Patrick Beverley added 16 points with point guard Jeremy Lin out with a bruised chest muscle. Houston avoided a four-game sweep in the best-of-seven series.

The Rockets led in the fourth quarter of each of the last two games only to end up losing.

"We felt the pain and frustration from the last two losses ... and we didn't want that to happen for the third straight time," Parsons said.

It almost did.

Kevin Durant scored five quick points to cut the Rockets' lead to two. James Harden missed two shots for Houston after that and the Thunder had a last chance.

Reggie Jackson missed a jump shot and Serge Ibaka grabbed the rebound, but missed a layup at the buzzer.

A stunned Ibaka fell to the court after the miss and covered his face with his hands.

Durant scored 38 points in Oklahoma City's second game without injured All-Star guard Russell Westbrook.

The victory kept Houston from being swept in the playoffs for the first time since 1996. Game 5 is Wednesday in Oklahoma City.

"Getting this first win gives us confidence going back to Oklahoma City, and anything can happen," Harden said.

Rockets coach Kevin McHale was proud of his young team's work in getting its first playoff victory.

"That was a gutsy win," McHale said. "We're not going to lie down. The one constant has been their willingness to scrap and fight. We kept on fighting."

Durant hit the go-ahead 3-pointer in the Thunder's Game 3 win. He wanted to get another one off on Monday, but Francisco Garcia forced him to give up the ball.

"I was. I was going to try to win it," Durant said. "But he played good defense."

Durant is looking forward to the series returning to Oklahoma City.

"We'll be all right," he said. "We're up 3-1 with a good opportunity to close it out at home. We couldn't ask for a better situation, so hopefully we'll get the job done."

Harden scored 15 points, but also had 10 turnovers. He had two chances to extend Houston's lead with less than a minute left, but missed both of them, including shooting an air ball.

Getting the win allowed Harden to take his tough night in stride.

"I did have a double-double," he deadpanned referring to his points and turnovers.

He picked up his fifth foul with about seven minutes remaining, sending him to the bench. A dunk by Jackson seconds later cut Houston's lead to 98-94.

Jackson got the Thunder within 100-98 with a 3-pointer a couple of minutes later. His 3-point attempt on the next trip down the floor rattled in and out of the basket.

Houston scored four quick points to extend the lead to 104-98 before Harden returned to the game with about three minutes left.

He said he struggled to get going after sitting out in the fourth quarter.

"The foul trouble kind of set me back," he said. "Coming in trying to make big shots, I was cold."

Derek Fisher made a 3-pointer to cut Houston's lead to 104-101 with less than three minutes remaining. It was reviewed a few seconds later and the points were taken away because replays showed the shot clock had expired.

Jackson finished with 18 points in his second start in place of Westbrook, and Kevin Martin added 16.

Houston got 17 points from Omer Asik and 13 from Carlos Delfino.

Oklahoma City's DeAndre Liggins received a technical foul with :07 left in the third quarter for arguing the call on a jump ball. Delfino made the free throw, but Durant hit a jump shot at the buzzer to get the Thunder within 91-84 entering the fourth quarter.

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