”We dug ourselves in a hole by falling down 0-3,” Chandler said.”It was an uphill battle from there.” Howard struggled offensively early in the fourth quarter and had missed two straight shots when he provided a defensive highlight by blocking a shot by Barea into the stands.
Spencer Hawes and Hedo Turkoglu never got into the game. Houston won the Western Conference series 4-1 to advance to face the winner of the Clippers-Spurs series in the second round.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.”I thought it was the right call,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. The champs took a seven-point lead in the fourth and hung on after the Clippers cut it to one on Matt Barnes’ free throws with 30.8 seconds left.
”It was anybody’s game,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. A missed shot here, a missed shot there, really.” Griffin had 30 points and 14 rebounds, but missed two free throws with 39 seconds to play.
San Antonio made a decisive 10-4 surge in the final minutes aided by a technical foul on Chris Paul, who had 19 points and 10 assists. ”We’ve got to go to San Antonio and play with a sense of urgency.” Rivers hoped his team would respond better to its second victory than its first in a series filled with serious momentum shifts.