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NBA: Thunder edge Rockets for 2-0 series lead

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook each scored 29 points to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder over Houston 105-102 Wednesday for a 2-0 lead in their first-round NBA playoff series.

The Thunder squandered a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter as Houston, playing without Asian American star Jeremy Lin because of a third-quarter muscle bruise, rallied with a 21-2 run for four-point lead in the late going.

Oklahoma City answered with a 10-2 run to win the game, topped by a go-ahead 3-pointer from Durant, who scored 21 points in the first half, and the playmaker's key pass to set up a Thabo Sefolosha jumper.

"I saw the opening for the three and made that and that gave me some confidence," Durant said. "I have confidence in Thabo and everybody else. If they are open I will give them the shot. If they miss we will live with it."

"We stayed aggressive. That's why we were able to make some in that fourth. We've got to continue to trust the pass and trust each other that we are going to make those shots when it counts."

The best-of-seven Western Conference playoff series continues with games three and four on Saturday and Monday at Houston, where the Rockets went 29-12 in the regular season and split two games against Oklahoma City.

"We were 15 down -- we could have given up and thought about the next game but we didn't," said Rockets guard James Harden, a former member of the Thunder backcourt. "We have a lot of confidence going back home."

Serge Ibaka added 12 points, 11 rebounds and six blocked shots for the Thunder, who lost to Miami in last year's NBA Finals.

Harden scored a game-high 36 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Rockets, who also had 16 points and 12 rebounds from rookie Patrick Beverley, who made his first start of the season, and 17 points from Chandler Parsons.

"Most definitely (we let a win slip away)," Harden said. "We had a lot of opportunities in the last three or four minutes to capitalize for a couple of buckets. There were a few possessions we would like to have back that cost us the game."

The Rockets were effective in silencing the Thunder for a long stretch of the final quarter thanks to a switch to zone defense.

"We had to be aggressive with the zone. We can't let them put us on our heels," Durant said. "We've got to make adjustments for game three. We have to get better. We're looking forward to game three."

When it came to containing former teammate Durant, Harden was philosophical.

"Kevin is a tremendous scorer," Harden said. "We just try to play good defense on him, make him make good passes and make somebody else beat us."

That's exactly what happened, thwarting Houston's tremendous rally.

"They made a run but we stuck together. As a team we locked in," Westbrook said. "Everybody had a big role toward the end of the game and we came out with a big win."

Lin had seven points, three assists and four rebounds when he exited with a bruised right chest muscle. He averaged 13.4 points and 6.1 assists for the Rockets this season.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130424/nba-thunder-edge-rockets-2-0-series-lead-0