EditorsNote: rewords third and fifth grafs; adds D’Antoni update in last graf
Russell Westbrook scored 29 points, but it was Paul George’s corner 3-pointer in the final seconds that sent the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 112-111 home win over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night.
Oklahoma City trailed by 14 early in the fourth quarter and by four in the final minute before Westbrook’s and George’s heroics.
James Harden made his first 12 free throws in the game but with less than 10 seconds left and Houston on top 111-109, he missed one, giving the Thunder a chance to tie or take the lead.
Westbrook barreled up the court, briefly handing the ball off to Steven Adams near midcourt before getting the ball and firing it to George in the corner for what proved to be the game-winner with 1.8 seconds left.
George had struggled from the floor, finishing just 9 of 25 overall and 4 of 14 on 3-point tries, but he came up big in the final seconds.
The shot also gave Westbrook his 137th career triple-double. He finished with 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
The Rockets had a chance to win the game after George’s shot, but Harden’s shot at the buzzer bounced off the front of the rim and off the backboard before bounding away to end Houston’s six-game winning streak and extend Oklahoma City’s to four.
The win kept the Thunder (48-33) in contention for the sixth spot in the Western Conference entering the final day of the regular season. Oklahoma City is one game in front of both the San Antonio Spurs (47-34) and Los Angeles Clippers (47-34).
With Denver’s loss earlier in the day, Houston (53-29) had a chance to clinch the No. 2 seed with a win. But that determination will go down to Wednesday as well, when the Nuggets (53-28) play host to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Harden finished with 39 points to lead Houston in its regular-season finale. He finished the season averaging 36.1 points per game, the most in an NBA season since Michael Jordan averaged 37.1 in 1986-87.
After Chris Paul’s 3-pointer put Houston up by 14 with a little more than nine minutes left, Oklahoma City reeled off 15 consecutive points to take its first lead since late in the first quarter.
Houston coach Mike D’Antoni missed his third consecutive game due to an intestinal virus that had kept him hospitalized since Friday. He was released from the hospital Tuesday, according to the Houston Chronicle.
—Field Level Media