Rockets avoid playoff sweep by silencing Thunder

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Apr 30 2013 01:37 PM | Updated as of Apr 30 2013 09:37 PM

HOUSTON, Texas - 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.

Houston Rockets center Omer Asik steps over Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, who sprawled on the floor, as the Thunder lost to the Rockets in the final seconds of Game 4 of their NBA Western Conference quarter-finals basketball playoff series in Houston April 29, 2013. Photo by Richard Carson, Reuters.

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 on Wednesday at 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, which 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 last October.

Durant, coming off a 41-point performance in game three, 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 last 10 points to close the second quarter, pulling within 60-53 at half-time, then scored the first 10 points of the third quarter to reclaim the lead.

Parsons, who grabbed 10 rebounds, made a free throw to give the Rockets a 105-98 lead with 2:20 to play.

But Durant answered with a 3-pointer, rebounded a Harden miss and drove to the hoop for a slam dunk to pull the Thunder within 105-103.

Harden missed a 3-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 Thunder-Rockets winner will face either Memphis or the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round. Those teams are level at 2-2 in their series, which continues on Tuesday.

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