LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — James Harden made up for a miserable shooting night with a big blocked shot, Russell Westbrook scored 20 points against his former team and the Houston Rockets edged the Oklahoma City Thunder 104-102 on Wednesday night in Game 7 of their first-round series.
The Rockets pulled out a tense final game of the first round that lasted long past the final basket as replays and fouls were sorted out.
In the end, Houston prevailed to set up a second-round matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers that begins Friday despite Harden, the NBA’s leading scorer, going 4 for 15 from the field.
The frantic final seconds of a game that was tight throughout had Houston take the lead for good at 103-102 when P.J. Tucker scored with 1:25 remaining. After changes of possession, the Thunder got the ball to Lu Dort, who attempted a 3-pointer that Harden blocked with 4.8 seconds left.
Robert Covington made a free throw with 1.4 seconds to go and Harden was whistled for fouling Danilo Gallinari before the ball was inbounded, giving the Thunder one free throw and the ball. But Gallinari missed the free throw and the Thunder turned it over on the last inbounds pass.
Covington had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Eric Gordon also scored 21 points for the Rockets. Harden finished with 17 points and nine assists.
Dort scored a career-best 30 points for the Thunder and Chris Paul, swapped for Westbrook over the summer, had 19 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds.
HEAT 116, BUCKS 114
Jimmy Butler made two free throws with no time remaining and Miami wasted a six-point lead in the final seconds yet found a way to beat Milwaukee for a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Butler rattled in the first, which was the only one that mattered, then made the second for the final margin. He got fouled by Giannis Antetokounmpo with about a tenth of a second left on a jump shot from the left corner.
Referees sent Butler to the line, with no one else on the lane, as some Heat teammates knelt at midcourt. And just like that, the Heat became the first No. 5 seed in NBA history to take a 2-0 series lead over a No. 1 seed.
Goran Dragic scored 23 points, Tyler Herro added 17 off the bench and Jae Crowder had 16 for Miami.
Bam Adebayo scored 15 points, Butler and Duncan Robinson each had 13 and Kelly Olynyk added 11 for Miami — which is 6-0 in this post-season .
Antetokounmpo had 29 points and 14 rebounds for the Bucks, who were down by six with 27 seconds left and tied it. Khris Middleton scored 23 points for Milwaukee, the last three of those coming when Dragic was called for fouling him with 4.3 seconds left.
Game 3 is Friday.
The Associated Press