Notebook: Rockets 105, Thunder 103

Posted Apr 30, 2013 2:32 AM

By Matt Miller, for

THE FACTS: The Houston Rockets needed four postseason games, but they finally figured out a way to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in crunch time. The Rockets survived a late charge by Oklahoma City to keep their season alive, narrowly avoiding elimination with a 105-103 victory Monday that trimmed their deficit in this first-round Western Conference playoff series to 3-1.

Chandler Parsons scored 27 points to go with 10 rebounds and eight assists, and Omer Asik added a double-double of 17 points and 14 rebounds for Houston. Carlos Delfino and Patrick Beverley also scored in double figures for the Rockets, who overcame a rough night from their All-Star James Harden (4-for-12 shooting, career-high 10 turnovers).

Kevin Durant continued his demolition of Houston, finishing with 38 points on 12-for-16 shooting, eight rebounds and six assists to lead the Thunder. But his seven giveaways paced a 22-turnover effort for Oklahoma City, which will take another shot at closing the series Wednesday in Oklahoma. Reggie Jackson scored 18 points and pulled down four boards in his second career start in place of injured point guard Russell Westbrook.

QUOTABLE: "We were in this situation the last two games. There was no way that we were going to give this one up. ... The pain and frustration from those last two losses, we didn't want that feeling again. We weren't going to let our season end with that happening for the third straight time."

-- Rockets' Chandler Parsons

THE STAT: The Rockets were able to withstand Harden's struggles and Durant's playmaking for the first time in this series, mainly because they had more balance than in the previous three contests. Five of Houston's players scored at least 13 points, five snatched at least three rebounds and four dished out at least three assists. In Games 1-3, no more than four Rockets reached double figures in scoring.

TURNING POINT: Harden picked up his fifth foul with Houston holding a 98-92 lead with 6:53 remaining, and Oklahoma City took advantage behind a 6-2 spurt. A Jackson 3-point attempt could have handed the Thunder a 101-100 advantage, but it rattled in and out of the hoop. Baskets by Beverley and Parsons, followed by the officials' decision to overturn a Derek Fisher 3-pointer because of a shot-clock violation, gave the Rockets more breathing room. That meant little to Durant, who took charge and scored five straight points to pull Oklahoma City within 105-103. Beverley took a charge on Durant between a pair of missed jumpers by Harden, leaving the Thunder with an opportunity to launch the final shot of the contest. Jackson penetrated into the paint only to be met by Asik, who altered his shot. Serge Ibaka grabbed the rebound off Jackson's miss, but he rushed his put-back attempt and drew iron instead of kissing it off the glass.

QUOTABLE II: "Essentially, they did what they were supposed to do -- win at home. ... What's the panic about?"

-- Thunder's Kevin Durant

HOT: The Rockets broke down the Thunder on the perimeter on both ends of the floor and knifed into the lane at will during the third quarter. This success translated to the stat sheet, as Houston poured in 20 points in the paint and shot a blistering 65.0 percent (13-for-20) in the third. Houston's 38-point output for the period marked the most points it has netted in a quarter in this series.

QUOTABLE III: "Our defense needs to be more consistent stopping the dribble. ... They had some really, really good moments, and we didn't do a good enough job to stay in front of them."

-- Thunder coach Scott Brooks

NOT: Harden gave the ball away more than he scored in the first half, committing seven turnovers while pouring in only six points on 1-for-5 shooting.

GOOD MOVE: The Rockets found success early in the game when they swarmed Durant to force him to pass the ball or commit turnovers. Brooks made the necessary adjustments to get Durant the ball, however, using a three-guard lineup to space the floor and punish Houston for loading up on Oklahoma City's elite scorer. After Martin and Fisher settled into the game in the second quarter and proved they could drain shots, the Rockets had no choice but to allow Durant to touch the ball more often.

BAD MOVE: Brooks went away from what was working at the start of the second half and put his starting five on the floor, which seemed to have a major effect on the Thunder's offensive and defensive rhythm. Kendrick Perkins and Ibaka are Oklahoma City's anchors on the interior, but they did not prevent Houston from scoring on its first five possessions of the second half to surge to a 63-60 edge. Although a smaller lineup likely would not have performed well defensively, it at least could have helped the Thunder score enough to maintain the lead.

QUOTABLE IV: "It was really important for us to win this game tonight. Everyone else might say, 'Oh, it's one game,' but for us, it's our first playoff win with this group. ... We needed this game for us."

-- Rockets coach Kevin McHale

NOTABLE: Houston played without starting point guard Jeremy Lin, who missed his first game of the season with a bruised chest. The injury also limited Lin's playing time in the second half of Games 2 and 3. ... Asik grabbed eight of his 14 rebounds on the offensive end. ... Jackson (7-for-18) took two more shots than Durant (12-for-16). ... The Rockets outscored Oklahoma City 44-22 in the paint, marking the second time that Houston has netted at least 20 more points in the paint than the Thunder in this series. ... Houston staved off elimination when trailing a playoff series 3-0 for the first time in franchise history. ... The clubs combined to allow 57 points off 44 turnovers.

UP NEXT: Game 5, 9:30 p.m. ET Wednesday @ Oklahoma City, Game 6 (if necessary), Friday @ Houston, Game 7 (if necessary), Sunday @ Oklahoma City.