James Harden scored 31 points and sank seven 3-pointers while fighting through flu-like symptoms, and the Houston Rockets beat the Thunder, 107-100, Wednesday night in Oklahoma City to pull within 3-2 in their first-round playoff series.
Harden made the first seven 3s he tried and Houston led by as many as 16 before fending off a rally that Oklahoma City helped stymie with its own strategy.
The Thunder, apparently doubting they could overcome an 8-point lead on their home court without Russell Westbrook, resorted to intentionally fouling Omer Asik — a 54 percent career foul shooter — with 5:33 to play. Asik went 8 for 12 from the line, extending Houston’s lead to 101-92 with 3:53 remaining before Oklahoma City gave up the tactic.
Kevin Durant finished with 36 points for Oklahoma City, which must now travel to Houston for Game 6 on Friday night.
The Rockets played without starting point guard Jeremy Lin for the second straight game because of a bruised chest muscle. Key reserve Carlos Delfino didn’t play in the second half because of a sore left foot.
They still had plenty of offense to earn their second straight win, getting 21 points and 11 rebounds from Asik and 18 points and five 3-pointers from Francisco Garcia. Patrick Beverley scored 14 and Aaron Brooks and Chandler Parsons chipped in 10 apiece.
Reggie Jackson contributed 20 points for the Thunder, who leaned heavily on Durant for a third straight game with Westbrook out for the playoffs with a right knee injury. But Durant did not score in the fourth quarter after helping Oklahoma City cut the 16-point deficit in half late in the third quarter.
Kevin Martin, the Thunder’s sixth man who was acquired in a preseason trade for Harden, missed his first nine shots before making a jumper in the fourth quarter to finish with three points.
The Rockets made a series-high 14 3-pointers on 35 attempts, making up for getting outscored in the paint, in second-chance points, and on the fast break. Oklahoma City made just 8 of 33 from 3-point range, missing 14 of its first 15 attempts.
Pacers 106, Hawks 83 — David West scored 24 points and Paul George had 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead host Indiana to a 3-2 series edge.
The Pacers have won all three home games in the best-of-seven series and are 5-0 at home this season against the Hawks. They'll go to Atlanta on Friday with a chance to clinch the best-of-seven series.
But the Hawks have won 13 straight at home against the Pacers, including both games in this series.
West looked like his old self backing down defenders, then spinning away to hit his trademark step-back shots. George went making 7 of 8 shots from the field, finishing with five assists — another strong showing in a series he’s dominated in Indiana’s three wins.
Atlanta was led by Josh Smith and Al Horford, who each had 14 points.
Indiana took the lead for good midway through the second quarter and opened the third period on a 12-3 run to make it 62-46. The Pacers added to their lead when the Hawks lost their composure.
Three players — Smith, Jeff Teague, and Ivan Johnson — drew technical fouls, all on dead balls. Atlanta was also called for two more technicals because of defensive 3-second calls.
Atlanta cut the lead to 81-67 at the end of three, but the Pacers put it away with a 12-4 fourth-quarter run to that left Atlanta in a 21-point deficit. The Hawks never challenged again.