Rockets finally lift off in post-season


Wed, May 01, 2013 - Page 20

Chandler Parsons scored 27 points to spark Houston over the Oklahoma City Thunder 105-103 on Monday as the Rockets avoided being swept out of their first-round NBA playoff series.

Thunder star Kevin Durant scored a game-high 38 points, but Houston’s defense stopped Oklahoma City in the final seconds to pull within 3-1 in the Western Conference best-of-seven series, which continues today in Oklahoma City.

No NBA team has ever rallied to win a playoff series after losing the first three games, but that does not mean the Rockets have given up on their title quest just yet.

“Anything is possible,” Parsons said. “Now the pressure is on them and we look forward to an exciting game at OKC.”

Omer Asik scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for Houston, who also had 16 points from Patrick Beverley and 15 from James Harden, playing against his former team after being traded from the Thunder to Houston in October last year.

Durant, coming off a 41-point performance in Game 3, shook off double coverage defensively to inspire the Thunder, who are without playmaker Russell Westbrook for the remainder of the playoffs after right-knee surgery.

“We were trying to keep the ball from him and he scored 38 points,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said of Durant. “Hell of a game by him, but a great one by us too. We’re not going to lay down.”

The Rockets scored eight of the final 10 points to close the second quarter, pulling within 60-53 at halftime, then scored the first 10 points of the third quarter to reclaim the lead.

Parsons, who also grabbed 10 rebounds, made a free throw to give the Rockets a 105-98 lead with 2 minutes, 20 seconds to play, but Durant answered with a three-pointer, rebounded a Harden miss and drove to the hoop for a slam dunk to pull the Thunder within 105-103.

Harden missed a three-point attempt and Oklahoma City took possession, but Durant was whistled for an offensive foul and Houston took the ball again.

Harden missed a 20-foot jumper and the Thunder’s Derek Fisher grabbed the rebound with 12 seconds to play, giving Oklahoma City one last chance.

Oklahoma City’s Reggie Jackson forced a jumper that missed and Serge Ibaka grabbed the rebound, but could not lift a shot above the rim at the final horn.

“It was unbelievable,” Parsons said of the final drama. “We were never going to give up, no matter where the series was at. There was no way we were going to let another one slip away.”

The winners face either the Memphis Grizzlies or the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round. Those teams were level at 2-2 in their series, which continued yesterday.