LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – James Harden couldn't get his shot to fall all night, so the scorer turned stopper.
In this wild Game 7 that took one strange turn after another in the final seconds, the biggest play came when a guy known almost entirely for his offense turned up the defense.
Harden made up for a miserable shooting night with a big blocked shot, Russell Westbrook scored 20 points against his former team and the Houston Rockets edged the Oklahoma City Thunder 104-102 on Wednesday night to win the first-round series.
“It was one of those nights offensively so I just wanted to change the game defensively and I think I did that,” Harden said.
The Rockets pulled out a tense final game of the first round that lasted long past the final basket as replays and fouls were sorted out.
“I've been around a long time and just at the end it was a little crazy,” Houston coach Mike D'Antoni said.
In the end, Houston prevailed to set up a second-round matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers that begins Friday despite Harden, the NBA's leading scorer, going 4 for 15 from the field.
“These are the games, you want to win a championship or win playoff games, you've got to do it with your heart,” D'Antoni added.