NBA: Houston Rockets edge Thunder 104-102

Houston, Sep 3 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 9/3/2020 12:55:00 PM IST

James Harden endured a miserable shooting performance but made a clutch series-saving defensive play as the Houston Rockets held on for a 104-102 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 7 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series on Wednesday night.

Following a Robert Covington free throw, the Rockets blew up an inbounds play from the Thunder with 1.1 seconds left to clinch the series and set a date opposite the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference semi-finals.

Game 1 of that series is set for Friday in the AdventHealth Arena.

Dort recorded a game-high 30 points on 6-for-12 three-point shooting. But the Rockets clamped down elsewhere defensively, forcing Thunder guard Chris Paul into six turnovers while holding Dennis Schroder to 5-of-17 shooting.

Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander matched Paul with 19 points and hit a corner three-pointer that gave the Thunder a 102-101 lead with 1:42 remaining. But those were the final points of the game for the Thunder, who committed 22 turnovers that Houston converted into 28 points.

Paul added 11 rebounds and 12 assists to complete a triple-double. Neither team led by more than eight points in a contest that featured 13 ties and 15 lead changes. With Harden off to a woeful shooting start, missing 5-of-6 shot attempts, Covington, Gordon and Westbrook carried the Rockets offensively in the first quarter by recording six points apiece.

But the Thunder led by just one point entering the second quarter despite shooting 11 of 20 from the floor by virtue of seven first-period turnovers that the Rockets converted into 10 points.

Dort caught fire in the second, pouring in a dozen points during one stretch before the Rockets wrestled away control. Gordon and Covington combined for 30 points as Houston led 61-59 at the intermission.

HEAT 116-114 BUCKS: Jimmy Butler lifted the Miami Heat past the Milwaukee Bucks 116-114 in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series. Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton was fouled by Goran Dragic of Miami while attempting a triple with 4.3 seconds remaining and converted all three free throws to tie the score 114 all.

Butler was fouled by Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks as time expired and calmly made two free throws for the win. 

Dragic added 23 points while Tyler Herro added 16, Jae Crowder scored 16, Bam Adebayo 15, Butler and Duncan Robinson contributed 13 apiece, and Kelly Olynyk chipped in 11.

The Heat are two wins away from reaching the conference finals which they last reached in 2014 when LeBron James was still playing for them. Giannis scored 29 points and hauled 14 rebounds for the Bucks who are in danger of being eliminated in the playoffs for the second straight season.

Middleton added 23 points for Milwaukee, Brook Lopez and Eric Bledsoe each had 16, and George Hill chipped in 14.


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