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April 28, 2013

KD drops 41 in effort to win without Russ

HOUSTON — Kevin Durant scored 41 points in his first game without injured All-Star Russell Westbrook, and the Oklahoma City Thunder fought off Houston’s late rally to beat the Rockets 104-101 on Saturday night for a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven playoff series.

Durant scored 27 points in the first half, and the Thunder led by 26 points before a big third-quarter rally by the Rockets put them within striking distance.

Houston regained the lead with about 4 minutes left, and was up with less than a minute remaining. But Durant hit a 3-pointer seconds later to put Oklahoma City on top 100-99.

A turnover by James Harden gave the Thunder the ball back and Derek Fisher made two free throws to push the lead to 3. Harden made a layup, but Reggie Jackson hit two more free throws after that.

Houston had a last chance, but Carlos Delfino’s 3-pointer fell short.

Harden scored 30 points to lead the Rockets in the first playoff game in Houston since 2009.

Game 4 is Monday night in Houston

Westbrook was injured in Game 2 and had season-ending knee surgery Saturday. It was the first time Durant had ever played without Westbrook, who hadn’t missed a game in his career before Saturday.

Durant tied a career high for the playoffs, and he added 14 rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block. Jackson started in place of Westbrook and had 14 points, and Ibaka added 17 points and 11 rebounds.

A 3-pointer by Chandler Parsons tied it with 5:46 left and Delfino gave Houston its first lead since early in the first quarter, 94-93, about 2 minutes later.

Ibaka made four straight points after that, ending with a reverse layup, to make it 97-94 with about a minute and a half left.

Harden hit a pair of free throws. Then Francisco Garcia’s 3-pointer put them up 99-97 with 45 seconds left, before the clutch shot by Durant.

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