NBA Playoffs: Houston Rockets rumble OKC Thunder to take control of series

The Houston Rockets got a huge boost from their bench to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 113-109 and seize a commanding 3-1 lead in their first-round play-off series on Sunday.

Nene Hilario scored a team high 28 points to lead the Houston Rickets to a Game 4 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday. J Pat Carter / Getty Images
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The Houston Rockets got a huge boost from their bench to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 113-109 and seize a commanding 3-1 lead in their first-round play-off series on Sunday.

Over in the Eastern Conference, Isaiah Thomas is playing with a heavy heart due to the recent death of his sister but he still managed to score 33 points as the Boston Celtics beat the Chicago Bulls 104-95.

At Oklahoma City, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams scored 18 points each and Nene delivered a team-high 28 as the Rockets now have a chance to close out the series on Tuesday at home.

Houston won despite an off night from superstar James Harden, who missed seven three-point attempts in a row and shot only five-of-16 overall from the floor.

It is a different story for the Thunder. They appear to be unable to score if Russell Westbrook sits on the bench or hits a dry scoring patch.

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With Westbrook on the bench on Sunday, Oklahoma City were outscored 13-4 in a stretch that lasted from late in the third quarter to early in the fourth.

Westbrook bristled when reporters pointed this out.

“I don’t want to hear that. We’re in this together. We play as a team. That’s all that matters,” he said. “I don’t want nobody to try to split us up. We’re all one team.”

Westbrook, who gets more touches per game than almost any other NBA player and often carries the Thunder on his back, finished with 35 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists.

Westbrook had another poor shooting second half, making only five-of-17 from the floor in the final two quarters. In a Game 2 loss, he misfired on 14-of-18 shots in the fourth quarter.

Westbrook had a triple-double in the first half, making him just the second player in NBA history with three consecutive play-off triple-doubles. Wilt Chamberlain did it in four consecutive games in 1967.

In Chicago, Thomas led the charge as Boston levelled their series with a Bulls at 2-2. The Celtics have now won two games in a row after falling behind in the series with back-to-back home losses.

The best-of-seven series resumes on Wednesday.

It has been eight days since Thomas’s sister was killed in a single vehicle car crash.

“What he’s been through in the day-to-day is unfathomable the way he has performed on the court,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “It’s been really incredible.”

Gerald Green scored a play-off career-high 18 points, and Al Horford finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Celtics, who blew a 20-point lead but managed to bounce back.

Jae Crowder finished with 11 points for the Celtics. Jimmy Butler had 33 points and nine assists for the Bulls.

In Salt Lake City, Rudy Gobert returned from injury to deliver 15 points and 13 rebounds as the Utah Jazz beat the Los Angeles Clippers 105-98.

Joe Johnson also scored 26 points to help Utah even the series at 2-2.

* Agence France-Presse

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