The Houston Rockets have become the third team to progress to the second round of the playoffs after they dismantled the Oklahoma City Thunder 105-99, capping an impressive 4-1 series win.

Houston enter the next stage of the playoffs in good company, joining the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors who respectively swept their first round opponents.

The Rockets were able to launch a tremendous fourth quarter comeback on home court after they found themselves trailing 72-77 going into the final period. Despite MVP candidate Russell Westbrook’s best efforts, posting a near triple-double with 47 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, he could not salvage the series for the Thunder as they fell at the first hurdle.

The game began as most had done in the series, with the Thunder jumping out to an early 22-16 lead — during this series, Oklahoma never lost a first quarter. Westbrook started the game hot, notching 13 points in the opening period, but both he and fellow MVP front-runner James Harden (34 points, eight rebounds) failed to take adequate care of the ball, turning it over three times each.

However, all the hard work the visitors had put in in the first quarter was undone in the second, as Houston dominated to take a seven-point lead into the interval.

Three-point shooting was a recurrent problem for both sides, as Houston and Oklahoma shot 6-of-37 (16.2-percent) and 10-of-38 (26.3-percent) from downtown, respectively. This is an alarming issue that the Rockets will need to address, hopefully it may just have been an off night from behind the arc for the hosts.

As one would imagine tensions were high between two teams gunning for a win for differing reasons, and tempers threatened to boil over in the fourth quarter when Westbrook and Patrick Beverley (15 points, eight rebounds), two players that aren’t exactly too keen on each other, exchanged words.

Houston’s second unit played a pivotal role in this victory like they have on numerous occasions this season, as they outscored the Thunder bench by 22. To add a little perspective, Lou Williams (22 points,  had the same amount of points as the entire Oklahoma second unit combined.

After an explosive third quarter from the visitors, Houston rallied back to take the lead and never look back, growing in confidence with every stride to take a series-clinching victory.

The Rockets will next face the winner of the San Antonio Spurs-Memphis Grizzlies series with their focus firmly set on clinching a place in the Conference Finals, where they were beaten by eventual winners Golden State in 2015.

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