The Oklahoma City Thunder were searching for a win against the Houston Rockets to even up the series at 1 apiece heading back to the Chesapeake Energy Arena, but James Harden and Co. had alternative plans for the series.
Houston topped the Thunder 115-111 in a comeback effort with their only lead coming in the final 12 minutes of the game. The Thunder did almost everything right throughout 33 minutes of the game, but when Billy Donavan sat Russell Westbrook at the 2:21 mark of the third quarter things went south, quickly. Houston trimmed a 12-point lead to 3 with a 12-3 run to end the period and the fourth quarter belonged to them as well. They took the lead to start the fourth and Westbrook wasn’t his clutch self late in the game, presumably because he didn’t get his proper amount of rest (normally sits on the bench from the end of the third to about the 8-minute mark of the fourth).
Despite James Harden and Patrick Beverley playing with 5 fouls in the final 4 minutes of the game, coach Donovan chose to ignore that fact and so did Westbrook, who took some very ill-advised shots down the stretch en route to a 4-for-18 shooting performance in the final quarter. Mike D’Antoni out-coached Donovan when it mattered most and Westbrook’s biggest attribute, competitiveness, and relentlessness got the best of him.
Westbrook notched the first 50-point triple-double in NBA playoff history with 51 points, 13 assists, and 10 rebounds. Clearly, Westbrook didn’t care.
Game 3 will be in Oklahoma City in front of the illustrious fan-base that makes it very challenging for opposing teams to win in the playoffs. Also, despite an end-of-game collapse, the Thunder may have found a formula to beating the Rockets.