NBA: Chris Paul takes charge late, helps OKC force Game 7 against Houston


Posted at Sep 01 2020 12:24 PM | Updated as of Sep 01 2020 01:55 PM

Chris Paul (3) of the Oklahoma City Thunder during the third quarter against the Houston Rockets in Game 6 of the Western Conference first round during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 31, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Mike Ehrmann, Getty Images/AFP

(2nd UPDATE) Chris Paul took over in crunch time as the Oklahoma City Thunder hacked out a 104-100 victory over the Houston Rockets, in Game 6 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series.

Facing elimination against his former team, Paul drilled two clutch three-pointers, then nailed the go-ahead free throws with 13.1 seconds to go to keep the Thunder's postseason charge alive.

Oklahoma City thus forced a deciding Game 7 against the Rockets, with the winner advancing to play the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round.

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The Thunder were down 98-92 with 4:19 to go, when Paul made back-to-back three-pointers to knot the count at 98 with under three minutes to go.

A layup by Russell Westbrook gave Houston its last lead, 100-98, with 69 seconds to go, but Dennis Schroder responded with a bucket of his own to tie the game for the last time just nine seconds later.

After missed shots by Westbrook and James Harden, Paul fished for a foul against Robert Covington, who struggled to defend the wily veteran in the final quarter.

Paul coolly knocked down the go-ahead free throws, and the Rockets faltered in their next possession when Westbrook committed a turnover.

That allowed Danilo Gallinari to ice the game at the free throw line with 3.8 seconds left to play.

"This is who we are," Paul said. "We are built for stuff like this. A lot of our guys have been pushed out and traded (from other teams). We just stick together and keep fighting."

Paul finished with 28 points -- 15 in the fourth quarter -- along with six rebounds, three assists and three steals, while Gallinari had 25 points.

Harden had 32 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists for the Rockets, but Westbrook struggled. In his second game back from injury, Westbrook only had 17 points on 8-of-15 shooting, and committed seven turnovers — including the last one that helped OKC seal the win.

"I had five (turnovers) so we've both got to be better with the basketball," said Harden. "Twelve turnovers between the two. If we cut those in half, we give ourselves a better shot."

Game 7 is scheduled for Thursday morning, Manila time. -- With a report from Agence France-Presse.