(Reuters) - Trevor Ariza buried a corner three-pointer with just under a minute remaining and the Houston Rockets completed a stunning comeback from a 3-1 series deficit to claim Game Seven of the Western Conference semi-finals against the Los Angeles Clippers 113-100 on Sunday.
Rockets guard James Harden had 31 points, seven rebounds and eight assists and center Dwight Howard added a double-double of 16 points and 15 rebounds. But it was Ariza who helped stabilize the shaky Rockets late, nailing a three-point after the Clippers cut a 20-point deficit to eight.
Ariza finished with 22 points and seven rebounds as the Rockets won the final three games of the series to set a date opposite the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals.
The Clippers again failed to advance beyond the second round, having never done so in franchise history.
Clippers guard Chris Paul played brilliantly in defeat, recording 26 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Forward Blake Griffin added 27 points, 11 rebounds and six assists while center DeAndre Jordan scored 16 points and grabbed 17 rebounds. Los Angeles never led in the game.
Rockets reserve guard Pablo Prigioni proved surprisingly instrumental in the third quarter, starting with a three-pointer at the 5:26 mark that enabled Houston to regain its double-digit lead at 70-59.
From that point, Prigioni was a defensive force, recording a pair of steals to ignite the Rockets in transition. Houston had surrendered nine points off its 15-point lead when Paul scored in succession, but once Prigioni provided the spark, the Rockets got rolling.
The Clippers made just two field goals over the last four minutes, and over that stretch the Rockets got an Ariza three-pointer, a Harden basket in transition, and a Harden step-back buzzer beater for an 85-68 lead.
Editing by Simon Evans