James Harden and Russell Westbrook came back to haunt their old side the Oklahoma City Thunder as the Houston Rockets snuck into the NBA Western Conference semi-finals, while the Miami Heat shocked the Milwaukee Bucks with a 116-114 win for the second consecutive game to lead 2-0 in their NBA Eastern Conference playoff semi-final series.
Houston Rockets 104 – 102 Oklahoma City Thunder
Tied at 3-3 in the best-of-seven NBA playoff series, the sides matched up in a decider on Wednesday night and it was the Rockets who survived to edge OKC in a hard-fought affair in the final game.
Westbrook scored 20 points and Harden 17, with the latter blocking a Luguentz Dort 3-point attempt with 4.8 seconds left to keep the Rockets ahead.
Luguentz Dort created history in the game, joining LeBron James and Kobe Bryant as the only players 21 or younger to put up at least 25 points in a Game 7. Harden, the NBA’s leading scorer, went 4 for 15 from the field.
THE ROCKETS HOLD ON TO WIN GAME 7. pic.twitter.com/Gd0hSKGo6z
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 3, 2020
It was a wild end to the playoff series in which the Rockets won Games 1 and 2 by a steady margin and Game 5 by 34, the biggest margin in franchise postseason history, but hadn’t won in the close ones. Oklahoma City took Game 3 in overtime by outscoring Houston 15-3, the largest overtime point differential in NBA history, and pulled out Game 4 by 3 points and Game 6 by 4.
The Rockets now face top seed Los Angeles Lakers in the semi-final of the Western Conference.
Milwaukee Bucks 116 – 114 Miami Heat
The Bucks came into the play-offs with the best regular season record and Khris Middleton drew the game level in the final seconds left by hitting three free throws, but, a shooting foul from Giannis Antetokounmpo at the buzzer saw Jimmy Butler head to the line and sink two free throws for a 2-0 lead in the Eastern semis.
Goran Dragic scored 23 points, his sixth straight playoff game with at least 20 — to lead seven Heat players in double figures.
Tyler Herro added 17 points, Jae Crowder scored 16, Bam Adebayo 15, Butler and Duncan Robinson contributed 13 apiece and Kelly Olynyk chipped in with 11 points.
Miami Heat are two wins away from reaching the NBA East conference finals for the first time since 2014 – when LeBron James played in Miami.
The Heat forced 14 turnovers while only committing 10. Antetokounmpo finished with a game-high 29 points and a game-high 14 rebounds after scoring a meagre 18 points and 10 rebounds in Game 1.
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer acknowledged he was “disappointed” by the touch foul called on Antetokounmpo at the buzzer.
“We’re going to disagree, but we need to shift our attention to game three and get prepared for that and understand that’s the most important thing right now.”
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