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Rockets stay alive

Rocket’s James Harden (right) and Thunder’s Derek Fisher battling for position in last night’s game.

Rocket’s James Harden (right) and Thunder’s Derek Fisher battling for position in last night’s game.

TEXAS – 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 last night at the Toyoya Centre in Houston.

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 previous 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.”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.

Getting the win allowed Harden to take his tough night in stride.

“I did have a double-double,” he deadpanned, referring to his points and turnovers.Jackson finished with 18 points in his second start in place of Westbrook, and Kevin Martin added 16.

Houston got 17 points from Omer Asik and 13 from Carlos Delfino.In other games Brooklyn Nets beat Chicago Bulls 110-91 to reduce Bulls’ series lead to 3-2, while Atlanta Hawks defeated Indiana Pacers 102-91 to level series at 2-2.†

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