MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

February 20, 2013

Thunder drop third straight


Associated Press

HOUSTON  — James Harden scored a career-high 46 points and Jeremy Lin added 29 as the Houston Rockets mounted a furious fourth-quarter comeback for a 122-119 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.

Houston was down by 14 points with about seven minutes left. The Rockets used a 21-4 run to erase the deficit and take a 114-111 lead with 1:46 remaining. Harden stepped back under heavy pressure from Serge Ibaka to sink a 3 to tie it, before Lin connected on one seconds later to give the Rockets their first lead of the second half.

Harden, traded from Oklahoma City to Houston before the season, made a bucket before Ibaka made two free throws. Then came another 3 by Lin to extend the lead to 119-113.

A 3-pointer by Russell Westbrook got Oklahoma City within three points, but Lin made one of two free throws to secure the win.

Thabo Sefolosha led the Thunder with 28 points and had six 3-pointers, both career highs. His previous career high was 22, which he reached twice, most recently in 2008.

Westbrook also scored 28 points and added 10 rebounds and eight assists. Kevin Durant had 16 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists for his second career triple-double.

It was Houston's first win this season over the Thunder, who won both previous meetings, including a 30-point win in the last matchup. The loss extends Oklahoma City's skid to three games.

Harden was 11 of 12 from the free throw line, made a career-best seven 3-pointers, had eight rebounds and six assists.

Lin grabbed a steal from Westbrook and dished to Harden, who made a shot from beyond halfcourt at the third-quarter buzzer to cut Oklahoma City's lead to 92-87 entering the fourth.

The Thunder then extended the lead to 107-93 after Kevin Martin and Sefolosha hit back-to-back 3-pointers before Houston rallied.

Oklahoma City was up by seven points midway through the third quarter when Chandler Parsons scored six points in less than a minute to get Houston within 73-72. He made a pair of free throws before adding consecutive dunks. On the first one, Carlos Delfino stole the ball from Durant and passed to Parsons for the dunk. Lin stepped in front of a pass from Ibaka a few seconds later and found Parsons alone for the two-handed slam.

Oklahoma City was up by eight points with about 1 1/2 minutes left in the first half when Lin was given a technical for arguing a call. Durant made the free throw on the technical to put Oklahoma City's lead at 60-51.

Harden took over after that, scoring all of Houston's points in a 6-2 run to end the quarter and cut the lead to 62-57 at halftime.

Harden made four 3-pointers early to help Houston build a 34-22 lead in the first quarter. Oklahoma City scored seven straight points after that, before Harden added a pair of free throws to lead the Rockets up 36-29 at the end of the first quarter.

Parsons was helped off the court and into the locker room after twisting his right ankle near the end of the third quarter.

He returned with about 6 1/2 minutes left in the game.