What's Buzzing:
107 -
Team 1 2 3 4
OKC 23 22 39 23
HOU 27 23 32 29

Harden's 39 lead Rockets over Thunder 111-107

AP - Sports
Harden's 39 lead Rockets over Thunder 111-107

View gallery

HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 04: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets celebrates after hitting a 25 foot three …

HOUSTON (AP) -- The Houston Rockets are heading to the playoffs for the second straight year and believe wins like the one they picked up Friday night will help them when they get there.

James Harden scored 39 points and the Rockets ended a three-game skid and clinched a playoff berth with a 111-107 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder

''It was a great win for us ... just to give ourselves confidence, especially going into the playoffs,'' Harden said. ''We might see them. It was a big win for us. It shows the resilience we have.''

Kevin Durant scored 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for his 40th straight game with at least 25 points, the longest streak since Michael Jordan also did it 40 consecutive times in 1986-87. But he was in no mood to talk about matching the feat after the game.

''We lost the game that's all I'm worried about,'' he said. ''I don't care. We lost.''

The normally mild-mannered Durant, who leads the NBA with 32.1 points a game, talked a little trash afterward when asked if he was frustrated by the physical defense Houston's Chandler Parsons and Francisco Garcia played on him.

''Those dudes can't check me 1-on-1,'' he said. ''They know that. I ain't afraid to say it either. They know that. So I was playing the double-teams, triple-teams, but you still got to find a way to do it. They're physical just like everybody else and I've been playing against physical players my whole life, so it's nothing different.''

The Thunder, who had already secured a playoff berth, clinched their fourth consecutive Northwest Division title with a loss by Portland later Friday.

Durant's 3-pointer cut Houston's lead to one with 1:01 remaining, but Houston answered with four straight free throws. He made another 3 with 16 seconds left, but Harden made two free throws to push the lead to 111-107.

Harden was 17 of 20 from the line and had nine rebounds and seven assists.

The Rockets were playing without Dwight Howard and Patrick Beverley, who both missed their fourth straight games. Howard has missed seven games recently because of a left ankle strain and Beverley is out indefinitely with a torn meniscus in his right knee.

''There's all kind of adversity in playoff games and playoff runs,'' coach Kevin McHale said. ''You've got to be resilient and that's what I've been preaching with the guys and the coaching staff. You've just got to stay in the fight and keep swinging. When we do that, we're OK.''

Serge Ibaka tied a career high with 27 points in a game that Russell Westbrook didn't play because the Thunder were playing the second night of a back-to-back.

Parsons added 23 points for Houston and Terrence Jones had 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Oklahoma City was up by one before Houston scored seven straight points to take a 104-98 lead with less than three minutes left. The Rockets made four free throws before a 3-pointer by Garcia.

The Rockets started the fourth quarter with 3-pointers by Jeremy Lin, Isaiah Canaan and Harden for a 9-2 spurt which gave them a 91-86 lead with about 10 minutes left. Durant scored the next four points to get Oklahoma City within 91-90.

Houston scored the last six points of the third quarter to cut the lead to 84-82 entering the fourth quarter.

The Thunder scored 39 points in the third quarter to take the lead after trailing the entire game. They opened the second half with a 9-0 run punctuated by a dunk by Ibaka to make it 54-52. Houston went right back on top with a 3-pointer by Parsons, but a 9-2 spurt by the Thunder gave them a 63-57 lead with about seven minutes left in the quarter.

The Thunder trailed through the first quarter and cut it to three points early in the second quarter on a 3-pointer by Caron Butler before an 11-0 run by Houston pushed the lead to 43-29 about five minutes before halftime. Harden scored the last seven points in that span and capped it by making a 3-pointer with Derek Fisher right in his face.

Durant scored Oklahoma City's final five points to get the Thunder within 50-45 at halftime. The first three points of that run came when Durant was fouled on an off-balance layup he made with his back to the basket and then made the free throw.

NOTES: The 39 points the Thunder scored in the third quarter were the most anyone has scored against Houston this season in the quarter. ... Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon watched the game from a courtside seat. ... The win was Houston's 50th, giving them the 10th 50-win season in franchise history.

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
View Comments (51)
  • Curry has 41, 17-0 Warriors extend mark

    Curry has 41, 17-0 Warriors extend mark

    The Golden State Warriors rained 3s in the desert and pushed their NBA-record start to 17-0. Stephen Curry scored 41 points in three quarters and the Warriors made a franchise-record 22 3-pointers (in 38 attempts) during their highest-scoring game … More »

    AP - Sports - 56 minutes ago
  • Man reports to police over Okafor fight

    Man reports to police over Okafor fight

    A man has come forward saying Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor assaulted him during a fight in Boston that was recorded on cellphone video and posted online, police said. The man filed a police report Friday saying he was punched and knocked … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 6 minutes ago
  • Pelicans-Jazz Preview

    It's quite literally been a painful season to date for the New Orleans Pelicans, who had to watch their star get carried off the floor in their latest bout with adversity. Anthony Davis sat out the last time New Orleans faced the Jazz, and that … More »

    AP - Sports - 10 hours ago
  • Hawks-Spurs Preview

    The Atlanta Hawks have tried to mimic his former club since hiring Mike Budenholzer away from San Antonio, though it hasn't stopped the Spurs from dominating the all-time series - particularly at home. The Spurs go for an 18th straight home win … More »

    AP - Sports - 10 hours ago
  • Kings-Warriors Preview

    Despite the ugly state Sacramento was in three weeks ago, the nine-point home loss it had against Golden State is looking better ever day. The Warriors are beating teams by roughly as many points as their second-leading scorer is putting up, and he … More »

    AP - Sports - 11 hours ago