Rockets, Celtics keep playoff hopes alive; Pacers grab 3-2 lead

Houston, May 2 (EFE).- The Houston Rockets and Boston Celtics scored road wins to stave off elimination from the NBA playoffs and keep alive their chance of becoming the first team in league history to overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a series.

In a trash-talking Eastern Conference battle, the Celtics temporarily silenced the New York Knicks players with a 92-86 victory Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks got off to a quick 11-0 start and seemed poised to back up brash forward Kenyon Martin's prediction that the game would be the "funeral" for Boston's 2012-13 season.

But the veteran Celtics went on a 20-11 run to end the first quarter and Kevin Garnett led an 8-0 run in the second quarter that gave Boston the lead for good at 42-37.

The Knicks made a late fourth-quarter run to cut a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit to 88-83 with just over one minute remaining, but Garnett, who ended the game with 16 points and 18 rebounds, hit a big bucket against Knicks center Tyson Chandler seconds later to give his team some breathing room.

Carmelo Anthony led all Knicks scorers with 22 points, but he shot an wildly inefficient 8-of-24 from the field. Over the last two games, the star forward has made just 18 of his 59 field-goal attempts.

The Celtics' victory was their second straight in the series and cut the Knicks' lead to 3-2; Boston will host Game 6 on Friday.

The Rockets, meanwhile, got a big night from star shooting guard James Harden in a 107-100 road victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Harden struggled with his outside shot early in the series, but scored 31 Wednesday night at the Chesapeake Energy Arena to counter a 36-point effort by Thunder superstar Kevin Durant.

Harden went 7-of-9 from 3-point range and led the charge in the third quarter, when the Rockets stretched their seven-point halftime advantage to an 87-75 lead.

The Thunder's normally unstoppable offense was less potent without the services of point guard Russell Westbrook, who is out for the playoffs after suffering a knee injury earlier in the series that required surgery.

Kevin Martin had a particularly dismal night for Oklahoma City, shooting 1-of-10 from the field and missing all five of this 3-point attempts.

Despite two straight losses, Oklahoma City still leads the series 3-2 and will have another chance to clinch a second-round berth when the teams square off on Friday night in Houston.

In one other first-round playoff game Wednesday night, the Indiana Pacers bounced back from two consecutive defeats to rout the Atlanta Hawks 106-83 at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis and take a 3-2 lead in that Eastern Conference series.