James Harden scored 31 points and sank seven 3-pointers while fighting through flu-like symptoms, and the Houston Rockets beat the host Oklahoma City Thunder 107-100 Wednesday night 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 eight-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 travel to Houston for Game 6 on Friday night.
• Celtics 92, Knicks 86: Kevin Garnett had 16 points and 18 rebounds and visiting Boston stayed alive, cutting New York’s series lead to 3-2.
The Celtics will host Game 6 on Friday night, needing two victories to become the first NBA team to overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a series.
Brandon Bass added 17 points, steadying Boston as it shook off an 11-0 deficit and pulled away in the second half to stop the Knicks again from their first playoff series victory since 2000.
Jeff Green scored 18 points and Paul Pierce had 16 as the two franchise stalwarts extended this season – and perhaps their Celtics careers – at least one more game.
Carmelo Anthony scored 22 points but was just 8 of 24 in another dismal shooting night for the Knicks.
• Pacers 106, Hawks 83: David West scored 24 points and Paul George had 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead Indiana past Atlanta at Indianapolis, taking a 3-2 playoff series lead.
The Pacers have all won 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.
It was an ugly night that included 18 fouls during a 57-minute third quarter, three technical fouls for defensive three-second violations, three more technical on Hawks players and another on Pacers coach Frank Vogel.