OKLAHOMA CITY — Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook each scored 29 points, and the Oklahoma City Thunder recovered after squandering a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter to beat the Houston Rockets 105-102 on Wednesday night and take a 2-0 series lead.
Durant hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:28 to play, and the Thunder didn’t relinquish the lead after that. Durant missed a free throw with 1 second left, but Houston was out of timeouts and Carlos Delfino couldn’t connect on a desperation shot at the final buzzer.
James Harden scored 36 points and spearheaded a 21-2 comeback that wiped away the big deficit and put the Rockets up 95-91. But the top-seeded Thunder were able to respond and protect the home-court advantage they’d spent all season earning.
Game 3 is Saturday night in Houston.
GASOL HONORED: Grizzlies center Marc Gasol won his first NBA Defensive Player of the Year award after anchoring the league’s stingiest defense.
Gasol received 212 points and 30 first-place votes to edge Miami’s LeBron James, who had 149 points and 18 first-place votes, the league announced Wednesday. Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka was third with 122 points and 14 first-place votes.
The 7-foot-1 Spaniard averaged 1.7 blocks and 1.0 steals for a Memphis defense that allowed a league-best 88.7 points per game. The five-year veteran ranked 12th in the league in blocks.