Win keeps Rockets alive
HOUSTON — The Houston Rockets finally found a way to close out a game in their playoff series with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
And it allowed them to escape playoff elimination with a 105-103 win over the Thunder on Monday night.
Chandler Parsons scored 27 points and Patrick Beverley added 16 points with point guard Jeremy Lin out with a bruised chest muscle. Houston avoided a four-game sweep in the best-of-seven series.
The Rockets led in the fourth quarter of each of the last two games only to end up losing.
"We felt the pain and frustration from the last two losses ... and we didn't want that to happen for the third straight time," Parsons said.
It almost did.
Kevin Durant scored five quick points to cut the Rockets' lead to two. James Harden missed two shots for Houston after that and the Thunder had a last chance.
Reggie Jackson missed a jump shot and Serge Ibaka grabbed the rebound, but missed a layup at the buzzer.
A stunned Ibaka fell to the court after the miss and covered his face with his hands.
Durant scored 38 points in Oklahoma City's second game without injured All-Star guard Russell Westbrook.
The victory kept Houston from being swept in the playoffs for the first time since 1996. Game 5 is Wednesday in Oklahoma City.
"Getting this first win gives us confidence going back to Oklahoma City, and anything can happen," Harden said.
Rockets coach Kevin McHale was proud of his young team's work in getting its first playoff victory.
"That was a gutsy win," McHale said. "We're not going to lie down. The one constant has been their willingness to scrap and fight. We kept on fighting."
Durant hit the go-ahead 3-pointer in the Thunder's Game 3 win. He wanted to get another one off on Monday, but Francisco Garcia forced him to give up the ball.
"I was. I was going to try to win it," Durant said. "But he played good defense."
Durant is looking forward to the series returning to Oklahoma City.
"We'll be all right," he said. "We're up 3-1 with a good opportunity to close it out at home. We couldn't ask for a better situation, so hopefully we'll get the job done."
Harden scored 15 points, but also had 10 turnovers. He had two chances to extend Houston's lead with less than a minute left, but missed both of them, including shooting an air ball.
Hawks 102, Pacers 91
At Atlanta, Josh Smith scored 29 points as Atlanta built a 17-point lead at halftime, then withstood an Indiana comeback over the final two quarters to even the series in Game 4.
After struggling much of the second half, Smith made every big play down the stretch. He swished a rare 3-pointer, came up with an offensive rebound to set up a 3 by Kyle Korver, then finished off a fast break with a right-handed dunk.
Paul George scored 18 of his 21 points in the second half as the Pacers made a game of it but couldn't come back from a 57-40 deficit at the break.
Tied at two wins apiece, the series returns to Indianapolis for Game 5 on Wednesday night.
Nets 110, Bulls 91
At New York, Brook Lopez had 28 points and 10 rebounds, Deron Williams added 23 points and 10 assists, and the Nets cut the Bulls' lead to 3-2 in their first-round playoff series.
Andray Blatche scored 10 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter and Gerald Wallace had consecutive baskets down the stretch as the Nets finally pulled away in a game they led most of the way, but never by too much.
Two days after rallying for a 142-134 triple-overtime victory, the Bulls were outscored 15-1 down the stretch and failed to set up a second-round series with Miami. Instead they will host Game 6 on Thursday.