New dad Parker scores 23 as Spurs down Mavs
SAN ANTONIO - (UPDATED) Dwight Howard scored 22 points and pulled down 18 rebounds on Wednesday as the Houston Rockets stayed alive in the NBA playoffs with a 108-98 victory over Portland.
Houston came into the contest trailing 3-1 in the tight series, in which three of the first four games went to overtime.
Wednesday's game was also close, but Houston closed it out with an 8-0 scoring run to narrow the gap in the series to 3-2.
The Blazers will try again to close it out when they host game six on Friday.
"We've been good at home all year, so now, go back home and take care of business," Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge said.
Rockets star James Harden endured another tough shooting night, but came through with some key baskets down the stretch.
Harden missed nine of his first 12 shots, but scored eight of his 17 points in the final four minutes.
Jeremy Lin chipped in 21 points and Chandler Parsons added 20 for the Rockets, who out-scored Portland in the paint by a 60-40 margin.
Wesley Matthews scored a game-high 27 points, and Damian Lillard added 26 with eight rebounds and seven assists for the Trail Blazers, whose reserves contributed only five points.
Aldridge, who came in averaging over 35 points per game in the series, finished with just eight on 3-of-12 shooting.
"They made plays," Aldridge said. "We had opportunities to make shots. We didn't make certain shots that we needed. We didn't get the big stops down the stretch."
The winners of the series will face either the San Antonio Spurs or Dallas Mavericks in the second round.
The Spurs pushed the Mavericks to the brink of elimination with a 109-103 victory in San Antonio on Wednesday.
The victory gave the Spurs a 3-2 lead in a series in which they had trailed 1-2.
The Spurs will try to seal the victory in game six on Friday in Dallas.
Point guard Tony Parker led the Spurs with 23 points, despite playing on a sprained left ankle that had his participation in doubt until Wednesday.
Parker was also a little short of sleep. He'd been up most of the night awaiting the birth of his first child, a son who was welcomed by Parker and his fiancee early Wednesday morning.
Tiago Splitter and Tim Duncan contributed double-doubles for San Antonio, Splitter recording 17 points and 12 rebounds and Duncan posting 16 points with 12 rebounds.
The Spurs never trailed in the contest, although the Mavericks kept them in their sights.
Vince Carter, whose buzzer-beater won game three for the Mavs, scored a game-high 28 points, connecting on seven of nine three-point attempts.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 26 points for Dallas, 14 of them in the fourth quarter.
The Mavericks' German star had hit seven of eight shots in the fourth and had an open look to cut the Spurs' lead to one basket only to miss. The Spurs promptly got a three-pointer from Parker at the other end.
"Every run that we made, they answered back," Carter said. "It's tough."
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