The Houston Rockets are moving on to the Western Conference Final after defeating the Los Angeles Clippers 113-100 on Sunday afternoon in Houston. The Rockets return to the conference final for the first time since 1997, when they lost to the Utah Jazz in six games.
Houston dominated the game’s first three quarters, outscoring Los Angeles in each frame and taking a 17-point lead into the fourth quarter. However, the Clippers did not go away quietly. They scored 32 points in the final frame, including a stretch where they scored nine straight points. Alas, they were unable to complete the comeback.
James Harden led the way with 31 points, while three others scored in double figures: Trevor Ariza (22), Dwight Howard (16) and Josh Smith (15). Chris Paul (26) and Blake Griffin (27) round out the players north of 20 points on Sunday.
The loss has to be devastating for Clippers fans. Los Angeles had a 3-1 series lead and a 19-point lead in the second half of Game 6 on its home floor before a disastrous fourth-quarter collapse forced a Game 7.
Like the Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference, the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets are the top two seeds in the Western Conference and will meet for a spot in the NBA Final.