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Rockets 111, Thunder 107

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HOUSTON — Guard James Harden had 39 points, nine rebounds and seven assists and helped salt away the Houston Rockets’ first win over the Oklahoma City Thunder this season, a 111-107 victory on Friday night at the Toyota Center than enabled Houston to clinch a postseason berth.

The Rockets (50-25) seemed to take control with an 11-2 push midway through the fourth quarter, with reserve swingman Francisco Garcia hitting a 3-pointer for a 104-98 lead with 2:42 remaining.

But Thunder forward Kevin Durant nailed two difficult 3s inside the final minute to keep the Thunder close before Harden and center Omer Asik (nine points, 12 rebounds) sealed the win with six consecutive free throws.

Durant finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds, his 40th consecutive 25-plus-point game, matching Michael Jordan for the longest such streak in the last 50 years. Oklahoma City power forward Serge Ibaka added 27 points, nine rebounds four assists and six blocked shots.

Forward Chandler Parsons chipped in 23 points and six rebounds for the Rockets who, like the Thunder (55-20), made 13 of 31 3-pointers. The Rockets, who were 0-3 against the Thunder, snapped a three-game skid.

Momentum was fleeting. While the Rockets converted just two field goals in the five five-plus minutes of the third quarter, the Thunder continued a run that began late in the second quarter and built a 60-55 lead when Ibaka drilled an 18-foot jumper with 8:07 left in the quarter.

Oklahoma City made 14 of 22 shots from the field in the third, including 6-for-10 from behind the arc, and after reserve forward Caron Butler hit a trey with 2:02 left in the quarter, the Thunder grabbed their largest lead at 84-76.

Ibaka scored 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting from the field and the Butler 3 gave the Thunder 39 points in the quarter. But almost immediately the Rockets responded with a 15-2 run that included four 3-pointers from four different players and a rousing, ongoing offensive surge from Harden.

The Rockets enjoyed a similar run in the second quarter, responding to back-to-back Thunder 3-pointers with an 11-0 blitz that pushed their lead to 43-29 on a Harden 3 with 5:09 left in the quarter. Oklahoma City answered with a 10-2 run, setting the stage for a wild second half.

NOTES: Rockets C Dwight Howard missed his fourth consecutive game and his seventh game in the Rockets’ last 10 with a left ankle strain. Rockets G Patrick Beverley also missed his fourth consecutive game with a torn right meniscus. … After making his first appearance since Feb. 20 and blocking one shot while grabbing one rebound in 12 minutes on Thursday night against the San Antonio Spurs, Thunder C Kendrick Perkins (rest) did not play against the Rockets. Thunder G Russell Westbrook was also a healthy scratch. … Beyond their injury issues, the Rockets struggled shooting during their three-game skid, particularly at the rim. Houston ranks sixth in the NBA with a 63.2 shooting percentage in the restricted area. During their skid, that marks stands at just 51.9 percent. “We’ve shot really a poor percentage at the rim, which we’ve done off and on all year,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “We went through another period where we missed a lot of shots at the rim and that always comes back to bite you.”

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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