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              === Rockets stay alive in win over Trail Blazers ===
 
 Houston,  TX  (SportsNetwork.com)  -  James Harden  shook  off  another  tough
 shooting  night with  some  clutch baskets  down the  stretch  as the  Houston
 Rockets  avoided elimination  with a  108-98 victory  over the  Portland Trail
 Blazers in Game 5 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series.
 
 Harden missed nine of his first 12 shots before scoring eight of his 17 points
 in the final four minutes to help keep the Rockets' season alive.
 
 Houston  trailed 3-1  in the tight series,  with three of the first four games
 going  to overtime.  Wednesday's meeting was also close, but the Rockets ended
 the game on an 8-0 run to secure the must-win.
 
 Dwight Howard led the Rockets with 22 points and 14 rebounds, while Jeremy Lin
 and  Chandler Parsons  chipped in with 21 and 20 points, respectively, for the
 victors, who outscored Portland in the paint by a 60-40 margin.
 
 "Our  guys came  out and battled," Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said. "They
 really wanted to get back to Portland and get another shot at them."
 
 Wesley  Matthews  netted a game-high 27  points, and Damian Lillard totaled 26
 with  eight rebounds  and seven assists for Portland, which received just five
 points from its bench.
 
 LaMarcus  Aldridge, who  came  in  averaging over  35  points  in the  series,
 finished with just eight on 3-of-12 shooting.
 
 "We  need LA  on the  offensive end,"  Blazers head  coach Terry  Stotts said.
 "We're better when he's got it going."
 
 The series shifts back to Portland for Game 6 on Friday.
 
 Portland,  which never  led in  the second  half, trailed  82-77 entering  the
 fourth and pulled within one point three times in the final quarter.
 
 After  Lillard's  dunk cut  the Blazers'  deficit to  95-94 midway through the
 frame,  Parsons made a  free throw and put in a layup after Howard grabbed the
 rebound of his missed second attempt.
 
 Lillard  answered with two free throws, and Matthews missed chances to tie the
 next  two times down. Harden, held scoreless after halftime to that point, got
 a  reverse layup to fall and followed that nifty maneuver with a 3-pointer for
 a 103-98 Rockets lead with 3:16 remaining.
 
 Terrence Jones' layup made it a seven-point game with 2:11 to go, and Portland
 missed its last eight shots to come up short.
 
 The Rockets took control with a 15-0 run that spanned into the second quarter,
 as Troy Daniels' 3-pointer yielded a 41-27 advantage.
 
 The  margin  reached 17 midway through  the frame before the Blazers ended the
 half on a 14-5 run to pull within 56-48 at the break.
 
 Houston continued to stay in front in the third but did not pull away, in part
 because  Matthews  exploded for 18 points  in the frame behind 4-of-5 shooting
 from the perimeter.
 
                                   Game Notes
 
 Omer  Asik  also recorded  a double-double  for Houston with  10 points and 15
 rebounds  ...  Harden is  shooting 34.7  percent from the  field in the series
 after hitting on 45.6 percent of his shots in the regular season ... Houston's
 Patrick Beverley played through an illness and finished with five points in 21
 minutes  ... Robin Lopez and Nicolas Batum had 17 and 15 points, respectively,
 for Portland.
 
 
 
 
 05/01 02:53:05 ET

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