NBA: Rockets weather Paul, Thunder to win Game 7


Posted at Sep 03 2020 12:10 PM | Updated as of Sep 03 2020 02:42 PM

James Harden (13) of the Houston Rockets talks with Dennis Schroder (17) of the Oklahoma City Thunder at the end of the game in Game 7 of the Western Conference first round during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on September 02, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images/AFP

(2nd UPDATE) The Houston Rockets emerged on top after a frenetic finish, beating the Oklahoma City Thunder, 104-102, in Game 7 to advance to the semifinals of the Western Conference playoffs.

The Rockets had to weather a spirited effort from the Thunder, who got a career game from undrafted Canadian rookie Luguentz Dort and a triple-double from Chris Paul.

They also got the win even with former Most Valuable Player James Harden struggling on offense, as he only had 17 points on 4-of-15 shooting.

But it was also Harden who came up with the biggest stop of the game. The Rockets were clinging to a one-point lead, 103-102, after a PJ Tucker layup with 1:25 to go.

The Thunder had a chance to go ahead again when Dort attempted a three-pointer, but Harden was quick to close out on him and blocked his shot.

Robert Covington gave the Thunder some hope when he made only one of two free throws with 1.4 seconds to go, and Harden was shockingly called for a foul before the ball was inbounded in the next possession.

But Danilo Gallinari — an 89% free throw shooter — missed the freebie, and PJ Tucker stole the ensuing inbound pass to finally seal the win for Houston.

"I couldn't make a shot, turning the ball over, just everything that was not supposed to happen," said Harden. "But I just kept sticking with it. Defensively I had to make a play."

The Rockets will move on to play the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals.

Eric Gordon and Covington both had 21 points, while Russell Westbrook had 20 points and nine rebounds for Houston.

Dort had a career-best 30 points, while Paul, who was traded for Westbrook prior to the season, finished with 19 points, 12 assists, and 11 rebounds. He is the oldest player to get a triple-double in a Game 7. -- with a report from Agence France-Presse