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”We’ve worked extremely hard through a lot of adversity through the season,” said Dwight Howard, who missed half the season with injuries.”To make it to the next round is big, but the job is not complete.” The Rockets bounced back from a lackluster performance in a 121-109 loss in Game 4 to head to the West semifinals for the first time since Yao Ming starred for Houston.The San Antonio Spurs got the biggest bounce in a game full of them, and the champs landed on the brink of the second round.Tim Duncan scored 21 points before Jordan was called for basket interference with 4.3 seconds left, and the Spurs hung on for a 111-107 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 5 on Tuesday night, taking a 3-2 series lead.Jordan, who had 21 points and 14 rebounds, grazed the ball while it appeared to be inside the cylinder.”It was a dumb play,” said Jordan, who sat at his locker long after the game ended. We did a good job fighting to put us in a situation to go up one. I tipped the ball.” The officials decisively waved off the basket while Jordan waved his hands pleadingly, but the Clippers still hoped for a reversal on video review.Dallas scored the next four points before Harden swished a 3-pointer under heavy pressure to make it 97-89 with 2 1/2 minutes left. Houston’s next basket came when Harden tossed a long pass to Jones for another slam to make it 101-91 with less than a minute left.
Los Angeles won the opener comfortably, but then lost two straight in an overtime thriller and a blowout.
Los Angeles missed 16 free throws overall and went 1 for 14 on 3-pointers while getting pushed to the brink.
”It’s tough, but the series isn’t over,” Griffin said.
”We can’t think like that.” This otherwise entertaining series grinded to a crawl in a lengthy third quarter featuring 35 combined free throws, but it picked up again in a tense fourth.
The Spurs intentionally fouled Jordan eight times in the middle quarters, resuming their hack-happy assault on the Clippers’ poor-shooting center in the middle quarters.
Los Angeles followed with a gritty Game 4 in San Antonio, evening the series that was widely expected to be the best in the NBA’s opening playoff round.