Durant, Thunder overcome strong second half rally by Rockets in Game 3

The Oklahoma City Thunder opened up a 26-point lead in the first half, only to watch the Houston Rockets rally furiously to decrease and finally erase it.OKCThunderA

But Kevin Durant would not be denied on this night.  He had 41 points, the final three coming on a long-range jumper with 37 seconds left that put OKC back on top 100-99.  The lead would hold.

The Thunder defeated the Rockets in Houston, 104-101, in Game 3 of the Western Conference First Round playoff series.  OKC leads 3-0 and will have the opportunity to close out the series Monday at 8:30 p.m. in Houston.  The game will be televised nationally on TNT.

Durant took 30 shots from the field in a game in which it was widely thought he would need to be more aggressive offensively to make up for the loss of Russell Westbrook.

Westbrook will be out for the remainder of the playoffs following an injury in Game 2.  Houston’s Patrick Beverley collided with Westbrook causing a complete tear of the miniscus in Westbrook’s right knee.

He underwent successful knee surgery to repair the knee, but the recovery will cause him to miss the rest of the games this season, no matter how deep the Thunder’s playoff run.

Serge Ibaka had a big night once again, with big shots near the end when the Thunder needed them.  He had 17 points and 11 rebounds.

Ibaka had the only two baskets for the Thunder from the 4 and 1/2 minute mark until Durant’s clutch three-pointer.

James Harden was big for the Rockets again Saturday night as he led his team with 30 points.  But he also had a huge turnover, just after Durant put the Thunder back on top.  Derek Fisher stole the ball, forcing a quick foul and was sent to the free throw line where he made both and put OKC up by three points.

Reggie Jackson got the start for the Thunder in the place of Westbrook.  Jackson responded with 14 points.

Kevin Martin also had 12 points.