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Defending champs swept by Thunder; Harden's heroics help Oklahoma City advance

DALLAS -- James Harden scored 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter as Oklahoma City rallied for a 103-97 victory Saturday to sweep the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks out of the playoffs.

The Thunder trailed by 13 points with 9:44 left before Harden scored seven in a row, and nine in a 12-0 run over the next three minutes. Oklahoma City finally took the lead, and kept it, after Russell Westbrook stole the ball from Dirk Nowitzki and passed to Serge Ibaka for a two-handed slam that made it 92-91 with 5:17 left.

Dallas is the second defending champion in five years to be swept in the first round. After beating the Mavericks in the 2006 NBA Finals, Miami lost in four games to Chicago the next year.

Kevin Durant had 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Thunder, who will get a break before playing the winner of the series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver. The Lakers lead that first-round series 2-1 going into Game Four tonight in Denver (9:30 p.m., TNT).

Even when Harden bobbled the ball in the fourth quarter after Oklahoma City took the lead, Derek Fisher ended up with it and drove for a layup to make it 96-91. Nowitzki then had a shot that hit the rim a couple of times before falling out.

Nowitzki had 34 points, including all six of his free throws after that. But he also missed a couple of shots in that span, all that were close but not good.

The Thunder got the franchise's first four-game playoff sweep since 1996.

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Pacers, Clippers in control

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Indiana Pacers have looked like a team with enough talent to win in the playoffs.

After wasting a big lead in Game Four against the Magic, the Pacers showed they have the late-game toughness to win as well.

George Hill hit a pair of free throws with 2.2 seconds left in overtime to help Indiana survive squandering a 19-point, fourth-quarter lead and beat the Orlando Magic, 101-99, on Saturday to take a 3-1 lead in the first-round series.

David West scored 26 points, including 12 in the third quarter and four in overtime, for Indiana. Danny Granger added 21 points.

"They did a great job of coming back," said Granger, who returned to the game in the fourth quarter after spraining his right knee in the third. "That was a momentum win. They had a lot of momentum going. We're lucky to get out of here."

Orlando had a final chance to tie the game in the closing seconds, but Glen Davis' fade away jumper bounced away.

Jason Richardson led the Magic with 25 points. Davis added 24 and 11 rebounds.

In Los Angeles, Chris Paul had 24 points and 11 assists and high-flying Blake Griffin added 17 points for the Los Angeles Clippers, who beat the Memphis Grizzles, 87-86, only after Rudy Gay missed a jumper just before the buzzer.

The Clippers won their first home playoff game in six seasons to take a 2-1 series lead in the Western Conference playoffs.

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Today's other games

*Miami will go for the sweep (3:30 p.m., Ch. 7), with New York trying to stay alive and end the longest postseason losing streak in NBA history at 13 games.

*Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau says forward Joakim Noah is doubtful for Game Four (1 p.m., Ch. 7) against the 76ers because of a sprained ankle.

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