After two consecutive losses against the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City bounces back and win an important game on its home court 115-113.
As every playoff game in Oklahoma City, the energy and the noise of the fans were impressive from tip-off. The Thunder definitely felt it and used it as an extra motivation to start a must-win-game.
In the first quarter, the Thunder controlled the pace of the game, hit their shots, and defended well. This helped them to take a nine points lead by the end of the quarter. However, after twelve minutes of adjustment, the Rockets played a stronger and better second quarter on the offensive end. Led by an impressive shooting performance by Lou Williams they scored 33 points and cut the lead to seven going into halftime.
The game remained intense and spectacular also in the second half. Oklahoma City was able to extend their advantage to ten points after three-quarter but, as it happened in game two, Houston made a run to start the fourth and cut the lead to only 4 points with only two minutes into it. Russell Westbrook checked back into the game and as a result, the Thunder were able to get back in control: 106-96 with five minutes left in the game. Game over? Not even close. In the next four minutes and a half, the Rockets outscored the Thunder 15-5 to tie the game at 111. This time around though, the Thunder were able to come away with the win. Steven Adams tapped in a missed three-pointer by Westbrook, the Rockets did not score on the next possession and Russell split the free throws after the intentional Houston’s foul. The whole sequence gave a three point lead to Oklahoma City. At that point, the Thunder decided to foul Harden with 8.8 seconds left so that the Rockets could not tie the game with a three-point basket. James Harden hit both free-throws while on the other end Westbrook went again one for two at the line. Luckily for Oklahoma City, Harden missed the potential game-winner from behind the arc.
Thoughts & Stats:
- Russell Westbrook notched his second consecutive triple-double of the series. He might not care about his stat-line but also tonight he was impressive: 32 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists, and 3 steals. I thought that he controlled the game perfectly without forcing too much and he tried to do the right play every time.
- It was strange to see him missing the free throws in crunch time. He finished 10-14 but he went 3-6 at the end of the game. You could tell that he was pretty upset with himself during the on court post game interview.
- Another interesting stat? Westbrook took only one three-pointer last night. He missed it.
- Andre Roberson is playing probably the best basketball of his career. Last night he finished with 12 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals (0-5 from the FT line though). Even if it’s really not easy to stop this version of James Harden I think Roberson’s defense was great also yesterday.
- After three games Roberson is averaging: 14.0 pts, 7.3 reb (4.0 off), 1.7 ast, 2.0 stl, 3.0 blk, 60.0% FG, 50.0% 3pt.
- Everyone was wondering why Donovan wouldn’t play Gibson more minutes. Yesterday he did it and it paid definitely off. Taj finished with 20 points while shooting 10-13 from the floor.
- The FT disparity was pretty big also yesterday. The Rockets took 10 free-throws more than the Thunder and finished 27-33. On the other end, Oklahoma City had a bad FT night and it scored only 14 times out of 23 attempts.
- Overall it was a great team performance. From the players to the coaching staff. It seems like Donovan figured out the perfect rotation to battle this Rockets team.
The Thunder and the Rockets will meet on Sunday afternoon for game 4 in Oklahoma City.