Abrines inbounded the ball with 7 seconds left on the clock. The Thunder were up by three points. The logical play would have been to keep the ball and get a foul in order to go to the line for two easy free throws. Well, usually that’s the play, but maybe not when Russell Westbrook is on your team. The number zero drove straight to the basket to nail the deal with a ferocious left-hand dunk on Capela.
The Thunder started the game in the best way possible. Pushing the ball, hitting shots and defending with energy and effort. All of it gave Oklahoma City an early 11 points lead and forced Mike D’Antoni to call the first timeout. After that, the Thunder let the defensive pressure go. The Rockets were able to score 32 points by the end of first quarter. On the bright side, though, Oklahoma City scored 38 points with 15-20 from the floor and 4-6 from the three points line.
The second quarter was basically a copy of the first one. Soft defense and good offense from both sides. To give you an example the Thunder shot 25-42 at the half. That’s a good 61%.
An interesting note at half time: James Harden finished the first 24 minutes with 5 points, 1-6 from the floor and 3-4 from the FT line. Andre Roberson had zero fouls.
After half time, the Thunder’s offense started to lose efficacy while the Rockets kept on scoring. The ball movement was there but Oklahoma City missed some easy shots. Houston took a 5 point lead heading into the last twelve minutes.
The only way for the Thunder to win the game at that point wasn’t to try to outscore the Rockets (as they tried and failed vs the Magic) but to stop them from scoring. This team is capable of playing good defense and indeed they showed it once again.
The Rockets scored only 3 points in the last 6.40 minutes of the game. A meaningless three-point basket, scored by Gordon with 0.9 seconds left on the clock, ended the game 105-103.
Three thoughts on tonight’s game:
- Andre Roberson’s defense has been fantastic so far this season. I think yesterday he had the best performance while guarding James Harden. Here is Harden’s final stats line:
13 points, 4-16 FG, 1-5 3PT, 4-7FT, 13 assists and 6 turnovers.
- Steven Adams says that the tape on his right hand is not bothering him. I find that hard to believe. He has difficulties to catch the ball and to finish at the rim.
- Westbrook and Oladipo ended with 30 and 29 points. Nobody else of the Thunder scored in double digits. Seven players on the Rockets scored 10 or more points.
The Thunder gained a much-needed win and moved to a 7-5 record. The next two games will be at home vs the Nets on Friday and vs the Pacers on Sunday.