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Thunder hope to knock off Rockets

The Oklahoma City Thunder can wrap up their first-round series with the Houston Rockets on Wednesday when Game 5 heads back to Oklahoma City.

The Thunder lost Game 4 Monday in Houston in OKC's bid for a sweep.

During this series, the Thunder lost All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, who tore his lateral meniscus. He had surgery and was deemed out for the postseason, but the Thunder still had all of the confidence in the world.

They almost pulled off the sweep. Down two to Houston with 12 seconds on the clock, OKC's Reggie Jackson missed a floater and Serge Ibaka missed a put back attempt.

The Thunder fell 105-103 and didn't hang their hands about failing to get the sweep.

"We just have to be ready for Game 5," said forward Kevin Durant. "You can't bring it back, so let it go. We have a game at home and we'll try to close it out."

Durant led all scorers with 38 points on 12-for-16 shooting from the field. Jackson was impressive filling in with Westbrook. Jackson had 18 points, while Kevin Martin added 16 off the bench and Derek Fisher chipped in 12 in a reserve role.

Monday was a disastrous night for starting center Kendrick Perkins. He only played nine minutes, scored zero points, picked four personal fouls and committed four turnovers.

Oklahoma City isn't the only short-handed team in this series, especially at point guard. Houston's Jeremy Lin missed the last two with a chest injury, but Patrick Beverley played well in Lin's absence. Beverley scored 16 points and the whole Rockets team overcame a poor performance from James Harden.

Harden only had 15 points. It was Chandler Parsons who picked up the slack with 27 points on 11-for-21 shooting. Parsons also had 10 rebounds.

"We've got a whole bunch of humble, hard working dudes that are not going to give up and are going to play together," said Parsons.

Omer Asik also registered a double-double with 17 points and 14 boards. Carlos Delfino chipped in 13 points off the bench.

Head coach Kevin McHale shortened his bench on Monday, playing only eight players. The group could grow by one if Lin is capable of going in Game 5, but McHale is just impressed with his team's toughness.

"We're going to need this type of effort in Oklahoma," McHale said after Monday's victory. "It's really important for us to go out there and feel what it's like to play a team that wants to close you out on the road. And it was really important for us to win this game tonight. Everyone else might say, 'Oh, it's just one game,' but for us it was our first playoff win for this group and you can't get two playoff wins until you get one."

If the Rockets prevail on Wednesday, Game 6 is slated for Friday night in Houston.