Rockets oust Westbrook's Thunder from NBA playoffs
Los Angeles (AFP) – James Harden scored 34 points as the Houston Rockets withstood a furious effort from Oklahoma City star Russell Westbrook to oust the Thunder from the NBA playoffs on Tuesday.
The Rockets beat the Thunder 105-99 to win their best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series four games to one.
Rockets reserve Lou Williams scored 10 of his 22 points early in the fourth quarter as the Rockets responded to a sensational third quarter from Westbrook, who carried his team to a 77-72 lead going into the final period.
Westbrook scored 10 straight points in one stretch and finished with 20 points, five rebounds and three assists in the third.
But Williams opened the fourth with two free throws and added three more from the line along with a three-pointer as the Rockets regained the advantage with Westbrook on the bench and they held on even after Westbrook re-entered the game as the Thunder missed a string of shots.
Westbrook finished with 47 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists but connected on just two of his 11 shots in the final period.
No other Thunder player scored more than 11 points, while Harden had scoring support not only from Williams but also from the 15 points from guard Patrick Beverly and 14 from Brazilian reserve Nene.
In the second round the Rockets will face either the San Antonio Spurs or Memphis Grizzlies.
The Spurs and Grizzlies went into their game in San Antonio on Tuesday tied at two games apiece.
The Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers were also tied at 2-2 going into game five of their series in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
The winners of that series next face the Golden State Warriors, who swept the Portland Trail Blazers in four games.