HOUSTON — Kevin Durant scored 27 points and Kevin Martin added 25 to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 103-94 victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday night, sending them to the second round of the playoffs for the third straight season.
The Rockets were looking to become just the fourth team in NBA history to force a Game 7 after trailing 3-0.
But the Thunder opened the fourth quarter with a big run to take the lead and cruised to the victory and a game Sunday against Memphis in a rematch of the Western semifinal that the Thunder won in seven in 2011.
“That’s one of our best team wins we’ve had all season. I thought the guys laid everything on the line. That’s what playoff basketball is about. I think that’s what team basketball is about,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.
Martin finally gave the Thunder someone to take scoring pressure off Durant for the first time since All-Star Russell Westbrook had season-ending knee surgery. He had 21 points by halftime and Westbrook’s replacement, Reggie Jackson helped out by scoring 17.
James Harden, who the Rockets said had strep throat on Thursday, led Houston with 26 points.
Oklahoma City used a 14-4 run at the beginning of the fourth quarter to take a 92-81 lead. Derek Fisher and Durant both hit 3-pointers in that stretch. Houston missed six shots, including two layups, and had two turnovers as the Thunder built the lead.
Harden made a 3-pointer after that, but Fisher stole the ball from him on the next possession and Durant took it down and finished with an exclamation point dunk, and Houston didn’t threaten after that.
The Rockets’ plan of double- and triple-teaming Durant and daring someone else to beat them worked in the previous two games as they cut the deficit to 3-2. On Friday, Martin knocked down shot after shot and had outscored Durant by 12 points by halftime.
Houston got 25 points from Chandler Parsons, while Omer Asik had 13 points and 13 rebounds.