HOUSTON — The Houston Rockets moved into the final eight of the NBA playoffs with a 103-94 victory over Dallas on Tuesday, completing a 4-1 series victory over the Mavericks.
They may face another Texan rival in the next round, as San Antonio edged the Los Angeles Clippers to take a 3-2 advantage in that series.
Houston’s James Harden scored 28 points and Terrence Jones had 10 of his 15 in the fourth quarter for the Rockets, who buried the memory of last season’s exit from the first round of the playoffs at the hands of Portland.
��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 loss in Game 4 to head to the Western Conference semifinals for the first time since Yao Ming starred for Houston.
Howard had 18 points and 19 rebounds to help the Rockets dominate inside and Josh Smith scored 20 points. The Mavericks couldn’t get going from long-range, going just 5 of 26 on 3-pointers.
Monta Ellis led Dallas with 25 points and Dirk Nowitzki added 22.
��It just felt like every time we were right there we didn’t get enough breaks to really make it a game,�� Nowitzki said.
The Mavericks didn’t lead after early in the first quarter, but a 7-0 run got them within three with about 5 minutes remaining. Then Jones took over, making a three-point play followed by a corner 3 to push it to 94-85.
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 and the Rockets were not under threat from then.
Nowitzki led Dallas with 14 rebounds, but Tyson Chandler had just six.
��We dug ourselves in a hole by falling down 0-3,�� Chandler said. ��It was an uphill battle from there.��
San Antonio’s Tim Duncan scored 12 of his 21 points in the second half to guide the Spurs to a 111-107 victory against the Clippers.
Kawhi Leonard scored 18 points for the defending NBA champion Spurs, who took a series lead with their second straight victory at Staples Center.
San Antonio’s lead dwindled to one point in the final minute after the Clippers made a desperate 7-1 run, but Blake Griffin missed a leaping shot with five seconds left. DeAndre Jordan tipped it in, but was called for basket interference; a ruling upheld on video review.
Griffin had 30 points and 14 rebounds, but missed two free throws with 39 seconds to play. Los Angeles missed 16 free throws overall while getting pushed to the brink of elimination.
Game 6 is Thursday in San Antonio.