After leading by as many as 13 points late in the second quarter only to once again cough up an early advantage in this series and trail by as many as 13 late in the third quarter, the Oklahoma City Thunder had a chance to force overtime against the fighting-for-their-playoff-lives Houston Rockets ... only to see forward Serge Ibaka's last-chance bid come up juuuust a little short.
The Thunder trailed 105-103 with 12 seconds left, possession of the ball and an opportunity to either tie the game or go for the win and finish off a 4-0 sweep of the young eighth-seeded Rockets. Oklahoma City superstar Kevin Durant dribbled from the left wing past the top of the key and over to the right side, where he pulled up in hopes of attempting yet another huge late-game 3-pointer, but Rockets defender Francisco Garcia tightly contested the move, forcing KD to turn away from the basket and, since he'd given up his dribble, pass to teammate Reggie Jackson.
The ball went off the sophomore point guard's hand, though, draining precious seconds off the clock and forcing Oklahoma City into a mad-dash scramble. Jackson beat defender Chandler Parsons into the paint (thanks, in part, to flimsy help defense from Houston star James Harden) but as he elevated to either attempt a game-tying layup or look for a passing lane, Jackson was met just outside the restricted area by Rockets center Omer Asik, who walled off Reggie's drive and forced an on-the-way-down flip toward the basket. Jackson's desperation try barely caught rim ... but it landed right in the hands of Ibaka, who had an opportunity to play the hero after being left alone by Asik's rotation (and by Harden failing to help the helper by crashing down into the paint to get a body on Ibaka).
Instead, Ibaka short-armed his point-blank attempted putback, the ball dying on the foot of the rim and descending as the buzzer sounded to signal a 105-103 Rockets win that staved off a sweep and extended the best-of-seven first-round series to a fifth game.
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