Rockets determined to play better in conference semis

The Utah Jazz are also close to advancing after a 96-92 win over the Clippers in Los Angeles gave them a 3-2 lead.

"We're not just a three-point shooting team", said Harden, who scored 13 of his 34 points in the final eight minutes. While each game was close, Houston ended the series in five games.

The Houston Rockets are headed to the Western Conference semifinals after using strong defense and a balanced scoring attack to overcome another big game by Russell Westbrook and eliminate the Oklahoma City Thunder with a 105-99 victory in Game 5 on Tuesday night.

The Rockets sent Russell Westbrook and the Thunder packing from the postseason following a 4-1 first-round series defeat.

The Rockets began eating up the clock after that and Oklahoma City missed shot after shot that could have closed the gap.

After the Game 4 loss in OKC, Westbrook took exception to a reporter's question about the Thunder second unit's inability to sustain leads.

The Rockets will next face either the San Antonio Spurs or Memphis Grizzlies. San Antonio was 14-for-28 from 3-point range, with Patty Mills hitting 5 of 7 while scoring 20 points.

Harden finished with 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting, but he had other help, too.

Mills then came off the bench to make his four three-pointers, spoiling an outstanding performance by Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley, who scored 17 of his 26 points in the third quarter.

The way the Thunder can win the game is if the whole team can get involved the way they did inGame 3.

For the game as a whole, Hayward scored 27 points and looked a lot more like himself after his bout with food poisoning.

The reason behind us not being too optimistic for Rockets is that they are the only team that now hold a 3-1 lead. The lack of fourth quarter execution has been the weak point of OKC and that's something that the team can work on and change their fate in Game 5.

Paul scored 28 points with nine assists, while Redick had 26 points, but the Clippers had no inside presence outside of DeAndre Jordan, who scored 14. Over the next few weeks and months there will be plenty of time to develop the prospects, make trades and hopefully sign free agents.

Andre Roberson didn't help his cause (thankfully) for a big pay day this offseason as he went 1-4 from the free throw line down the stretch when Houston resorted to Hack-a-Dre. They made 12 of 15 free throws in the final period, but never managed to take the lead. He is averaging 33 points per game, up from his career average of 22 and is the clear leader on his Rockets team.

  • Julie Sanders