Serge Ibaka missed a potential game-tying tip-in within arms length of the rim, and Chandler Parsons led a valiant comeback for the Houston Rockets to avoid an NBA Playoffs series sweep in Game 4 as they defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder, 105-103, on Monday night.
The final play that would've tied the game occurred when Reggie Jackson drove the lane, ran into an outstretched Omer Asik and narrowly missed a running shot attempt. Serge Ibaka got the rebound and had a wide-open look from point-blank range, but he missed it.
Durant had brought the Thunder back with five straight points, including a thunderous dunk through four defenders. James Harden missed two jumpers to set up Oklahoma City's final play.
Parsons finished the game with 27 points on 11-of-21 shooting, 10 rebounds and eight assists to will the Rockets past the stingy Thunder. Though he struggled in the first half, James Harden came alive in the second to demonstrate why he's considered on of the league's elite players. One of the burning questions before tipoff was who would step up in addition to the Rockets' lone All-Star. That turned out to be Parsons and Carlos Delfino, who energized the crowd in a strong third quarter with this momentum-changing dunk.
The first half was all Oklahoma City, and it was a wonder that the Rockets finished the first two frames only down 60-53. The biggest disparity to that point was in the two teams' shooting percentages. The Thunder shot a blazing 58.3 percent, while the Rockets put together a respectable 45.2 percent mark of their own.
That all changed in the third quarter when the Rockets shot 65 percent and committed just two turnovers while forcing five for the Thunder. Parsons scored 11 points in the frame on 5-of-6 shooting, while Harden began to come alive and scored nine points of his own.
Delfino led the Rockets' reserves with 13 points and helped spark the momentum in the third when he dropped this vicious dunk with Durant in tow (we've added the clip from the Gatorade commercial):
This got the home crowd back into the ballgame and sparked a run that helped Houston seal the win.
In the game that was a tale of two halves, foul trouble proved to be the great equalizer, as Harden, Parsons and Omer Asik each played critical minutes down the stretch with four or more fouls. Harden picked up his fifth near the six-minute mark in the fourth. Kendrick Perkins, Thabo Sefolosha and Durant each had four until Durant picked up his fifth in the waning minutes.
Game 5 will tip-off in Oklahoma City at a time to be determined on Wednesday night.