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OKC Thunder: Toughest game of series ends with Rockets extending series

ROCKETS 105, THUNDER 103 — Houston avoided a series sweep as the Thunder suffered a tough loss and chance to complete four-game sweep.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: April 30, 2013

HOUSTON — Scott Brooks warned that this would be the toughest game.

“Nobody wants to go home,” the Thunder coach said beforehand.

Brooks was right. Houston didn't.

And the Rockets won't be.

With their season on the line, the Rockets dodged a series sweep by securing a 105-103 win over the Thunder in Game 4 on Monday night inside the Toyota Center.

Now, rather than heading home, the Rockets are returning to Oklahoma City. Game 5 is on Wednesday night. Tip-off is 8:30.

Kevin Durant scored a game-high 38 points to lead the Thunder. Reggie Jackson added 18 points, Kevin Martin scored 16 and Derek Fisher chipped in 12.

Playing its second game without Russell Westbrook, however, the Thunder again missed its All-Star point guard and appeared lost at times on the offensive end while its most dynamic weapon watched from his couch.

Still, the Thunder fought valiantly and had an opportunity to send the game into overtime. Two missed layups from point-blank range in the final three seconds, though, sealed the Thunder's fate.

The toughest game yet in this series ended in the toughest way possible.

With just 12.1 seconds remaining and the Rockets leading by two, the Thunder had a chance to tie or win the game. After the inbounds pass, Durant mishandled his dribble and was forced to pass to Jackson. Following a strong drive and heavy contact by Rockets center Omer Asik, Jackson missed the layup. Serge Ibaka had an uncontested putback opportunity but left it short.

“They got into us,” Brooks said of the final play. “At that moment, it was a scramble play. I thought Reggie did as best he could. We had an open tip-in.”

Chandler Parsons led the Rockets with 27 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Asik had 17 points with 14 rebounds. Patrick Beverley scored 16 points and Carlos Delfino added 13 points off the bench.

James Harden, meanwhile, struggled mightily. He scored 15 points with just one rebound and three assists. He had five steals but 10 turnovers.

“I couldn't get it going early,” Harden said. “At halftime, I kind of regrouped. Then foul trouble kind of set me back.”

Harden's personal performance was a microcosm of what was a particularly sloppy game, as both teams turned it over 22 times.

But the Rockets, to no one's surprise, started the game with a sense of urgency expected for a team whose season was on the brink. Fueled by that impossible-to-ignore possibility, Houston jumped to a 29-24 first-quarter lead as its shooters finally awoke, finding their stroke in the opening quarter and making five of nine 3-pointers. The Rockets hadn't converted at least 33 percent from beyond the 3-point arc in any of the previous three games.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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