NBA playoffs: Harden leads Rockets to win in Game 5

OKC still up 3-2, but series now heads to Houston
2013-05-02T00:00:00Z NBA playoffs: Harden leads Rockets to win in Game 5The Associated Press The Associated Press
May 02, 2013 12:00 am  • 

OKLAHOMA CITY - James Harden lacked the energy to get through a morning shoot-around. Then he found the strength to fill the Houston Rockets with life in a playoff series that had started to look hopeless.

Harden scored 31 points and sank seven three-pointers while fighting flu-like symptoms, and the Rockets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 107-100 Wednesday night to pull within 3-2 in their first-round playoff series.

Harden made the first seven threes he tried, and Houston led by as many as 16 to win its second straight, getting halfway to becoming the first team in NBA history to overcome an 0-3 series deficit.

"I just tried to go out there and give it all I had," said Harden, adding that he slept all day. "It was a win or go home, so I got some shots to fall, and I just tried to not think about it."

The Rockets played without starting point guard Jeremy Lin for the second straight game because of a bruised chest muscle. Key reserve Carlos Delfino did not play in the second half because of a sore left foot.

They still had plenty of offense, getting 21 points and 11 rebounds from Omer Asik and 18 points and five three-pointers from Francisco Garcia. Patrick Beverley scored 14 and Aaron Brooks and Chandler Parsons chipped in 10 apiece.

"We just came out here and played pressure-free. Go out there and just hoop, that was our mindset going into the game," Harden said. "The same thing back at home: just go out there and hoop.

"We're an eighth seed. Nobody's expecting us to win. So just give it what we've got. Simple."

• Pacers 106, Hawks 83: In Indianapolis, Pacers coach Frank Vogel made a few simple lineup adjustments and a strong pregame pitch. It was just what the Pacers needed.

Indiana played more physical and more focused basketball than Atlanta, and for the first time in this best-of-seven series played defense the way Vogel has been coaching it all season. Against all that, Atlanta never had a chance.

Veteran David West broke out of a series-long funk to score 24 points, Paul George finished with another double-double, and Indiana pulled away for a 106-83 victory to take a 3-2 lead over the Hawks.

"We needed to re-establish our confidence," said Vogel, the Pacers coach. "We're still a young team. We needed to re-establish our ability to slow them down."

Indiana did that and a whole lot more on a night in which it was virtually flawless.

West looked like his old self backing down defenders, then spinning away to hit his trademark step-back shots. George made 7 of 8 shots from the field, finishing with 10 rebounds and five assists - another strong showing in a series he's dominated in Indiana's three wins.

"I was just dialed in and focused; I really wanted this one tonight," George said. "I'm going to have the same focus on the road."

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