Without Russell Westbrook, the Oklahoma City Thunder jumped out to a 26-point lead in Game 3 at the Houston Rockets.
Then reality set in. Kevin Durant had to score 41 points, a career playoff high, without All-Star point guard as the Thunder held off a late rally to beat the Rockets 104-101 on Saturday nigh. They lead this first-round, best-of-seven Western Conference series 3-0.
Durant scored 27 points in the first half, but the Rockets rallied behind 11 points from James Harden in the third quarter to outscore the Thunder 27-14.
Houston regained the lead with four minutes left had the lead with less than a minute remaining after a three-pointer from Francisco Garcia.
Durant, however, responded. He hit a three-pointer that bounced off the back rim straight up in the air, hit the front of the rim on the way down and trickled in. That put Oklahoma City ahead for good at 100-99.
A turnover by Harden gave the Thunder the ball back and Derek Fisher made two free throws to push the lead to three. Harden scored 30 points to lead the Rockets in the first playoff game in Houston since 2009.
Next: Game 4 is in Houston on Monday (TNT, 9:30 p.m. ET).
Grizzlies 104, Clippers 83
Memphis dominated in the paint, and Los Angeles PG Chris Paul was held to one point in the fourth quarter, as they drew even in the Western Conference series at 2.
Player of the game: C Marc Gasol posted a game-high 24 points on 9 of 14 shooting, 13 rebounds, four assists and three blocks. His points tied with PF Zach Randolph, who also had 24 on 11-for-17 shooting.
Turning point: Memphis broke open a close contest with a 19-5 surge to start the fourth led by as many as 20. They dominated the quarter with a 33-16 edge. The Clippers starters only contributed five points, with SF Caron Butler, C DeAndre Jordan and SG Chauncey Billups going scoreless.
Trending downward: Jordan was the only other starter to score other than Paul (19 points) and PF Blake Griffin (19). Jordan was held to two points. Billups and Butler combined to shoot 0 for 10 and went scoreless for the game. Jordan has 11 points total in the series.
Next: Game 5 is Los Angeles on Tuesday (network TBD, 10:30)
Bulls 142, Nets 134 3OTs
Brooklyn had victory in hand but went cold late, wasting 32 points and 10 assists from PG Deron Williams, as host Chicago took a 3-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference. The game fell three minutes shy of four hours.
Player of the game: Bulls G Nate Robinson came off the bench to score a game-high 34 points on 14 of 23 shooting in 29 minutes and dished four assists. Twenty-three of his points came in the fourth quarter.
Turning point: The Bulls trailed by 14 points with three minutes left in regulation before Robinson dropped in 12 consecutive points to force the extra periods.
Trending downward: The Nets gave the Bulls life by making just 29 of 45 free throws (64.4%) . … Bulls PG Kirk Hinrich played 60 minutes while SF Luol Deng logged 57 and PF Carlos Boozer 50. … For Brooklyn, Williams played 58 minutes, C Brook Lopez 51 and PF Reggie Evans 50.
Next: Game 5 is Brooklyn on Monday (TNT, 7)
Hawks 90, Pacers 69
Atlanta's defense was staggering as it held visiting Indiana to 30 points in the first half and 27.2% shooting overall in Game 3 to win for the first time in the Eastern Conference series.
Player of the game: PF Al Horford had game-highs of 26 points and 16 rebounds and added two blocked shots as he was moved from center and coach Larry Drew inserted Johan Petro in the starting lineup.
Turning point: When SG Lance Stephenson drained a three-pointer, the Pacers led 12-11 with 4:39 left in the first quarter, but the Hawks went on a 16-2 run to put the game away early. The Pacers missed 11 of their first 12 shots of the second quarter and fell behind by as many as 26.
Trending downward: Stephenson, PG George Hill and C Roy Hibbert combined to shoot 5-for-23 for just 15 points for Indiana.
Next: Game 4 is Atlanta on Monday (NBA TV, 7:30)