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It was supposed to be easier than this - Rockets beat Curry-less Warriors

Golden State still leads 2-1 after losing to Houston on Thursday night.

Houston Rockets star James Harden
Houston Rockets star James Harden

THE HOUSTON ROCKETS survived a thrilling finish to trump the Golden State Warriors 97-96 and stay alive in the NBA Western Conference first-round playoff series.

James Harden made a step-back jump shot with 2.7 seconds remaining to lift the Rockets to victory in game three on Thursday, as they closed to within 2-1 in the post-season match-up.

Despite the absence of reigning NBA MVP Steph Curry — who sat out a second successive due to an ankle problem — the defending champions managed to claw their way back into the contest, hitting the front for the first time since opening the game 2-0 with just over a minute left to play in the final quarter.

A pair of free-throws from Michael Beasley put the Rockets 95-94 ahead, until Ian Clark’s layup gave the Warriors a one-point lead with 10.6secs remaining after Trevor Ariza lost the ball.

But the Rockets had the final say on home court in Houston, Harden composing himself and nailing the two-pointer – his 35th points of the night – for a crucial victory.

His bench, Dwight Howard especially, could have looked a bit more pleased:
https://vine.co/v/iFVdzjv5qnl

Elsewhere, the Oklahoma City Thunder regained control of their Western Conference first-round series against the Dallas Mavericks with an impressive 131-102 win.

Oklahoma City had dropped game two by the slimmest of margins on home court on Monday but the Thunder earned a 2-1 series lead thanks to big performances from All-Star duo Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the road in Dallas.

Durant posted 34 points, 20 of those coming in the first half, while Westbrook finished with 26 points and 15 assists in a double-double display.

In Indianapolis, the Toronto Raptors trumped the Indiana Pacers 101-85 in game three.

DeMar DeRozan came up big for the Raptors, the All-Star guard scoring 21 points as the Raptors took a 2-1 lead and regained home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference playoff match-up.

Kyle Lowry also posted 21 points for the Raptors, who are two wins away from just their second series victory in franchise history.

Paul George’s double-double of 25 points and 10 rebounds were not enough for the Pacers.

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