Rockets Advance to Second Round with 104-102 Win Over OKC in Game 7

James Harden with Houston Rockets in 2016. Photo by Canadian Press/REX/Shutterstock (5613421g)

Houston Rockets are through to the second round of the NBA playoffs after getting a 104-102 win over Oklahoma City Thunder in the deciding Game 7 on Wednesday night.

The game was highlighted by James Harden, but not for the reasons you would think. In the closing seconds of the game, Harden blocked Luguentz Dort’s three-point attempt and robbed the Thunder of the chance to win the series with a buzzer-beater.  

Harden had a poor game offensively, shooting 1-9 from the three-point arc and finishing the night with 17 points. Still, his shooting struggles didn’t matter as he made up the difference on the defense.

“It was one of those nights offensively so I just wanted to change the game defensively and I think I did that,” Harden told reporters after the game.

Rockets were led in scoring by Robert Covington and Eric Gordon, who scored 21 each, while All-Star guard Russell Westbrook added 20 against his former team.

On the other side, Dort was a standout for OKC, pouring in 30 points and breaking the franchise’s rookie playoffs record that was previously held by James Harden. Chris Paul had a triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists, while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander contributed with 19 points and four assists.

“It’s a tough one. It’s tough,” said Paul. “We fought hard all year. Honestly, a lot of people doubted us, but we didn’t doubt ourselves. We didn’t give a damn about anybody’s predictions going into any series.”