The Houston Rockets qualified for the second round of the NBA Playoffs for the first time since 2009 Tuesday night, taking out the Dallas Mavericks 103-94 in Game 5.

James Harden scored a game-high 28 points, and handed out eight assists.

This is just Houston’s second postseason series triumph since 1997.

Per the Houston Chronicle:

“It feels good to move on from the first round, but the job is not complete,” said Rockets center Dwight Howard, who had 18 points, 19 rebounds and four blocked shots. “We are very thankful to be in this position. […] From the beginning of the season to now, I think everybody is locked in on what our goal is. That’s to win a championship.”

 

The Rockets will open their second-round series at Toyota Center against the Clippers or Spurs. They split the season series with the Clippers and lost three of four games against the Spurs, but would have homecourt advantage against either. […] “It feels good to advance to the (Western Conference) semifinals,” said Rockets guard James Harden, who had 28 points and averaged 28.4 in the series. “Obviously, this isn’t the end for us. We have bigger goals than that, but great series for our guys. I’m looking forward to the next round. It’s good to get out of the first round, but we have to stay locked in and focused on the overall goal.”

 

They made 53.5 percent of their shots in the first half, but had 15 turnovers, leading to 17 Mavericks points. They moved the ball well, but missed free throws, hitting just 19 of 36 in the game. They led by as much as 13 in the first half and by 14 in the second half. But with 5:20 left, it was a five-point game. […] “Playing NBA basketball is hard sometimes,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “I tell the guys, “sometimes the ball is square and the rim is (small.) Other nights, the rim looks like the ocean and that ball couldn’t feel any better in your hand. It’s crazy how fast it turns. You can get a big rebound, a block, you dive on the floor, you get a tip-in and the momentum builds.”