Flip flop of halves, Thunder rally from 26 to knock off Rockets


“We have to stop with this narrative Russ isn’t doing well. Russ is doing everything for this team. We rally behind Russ”

Paul George’s postgame interview with Lisa Salters.

The first half of Oklahoma City’s road game against the Houston Rockets went abysmally. The second half displayed a complete turnaround, thus shining another light on how resilient this Thunder team is.

The Thunder won their 10th out of 11 on Saturday night against the Rockets, 117-112 after being down by as many as 26 points.

At halftime, OKC trailed the Rockets 70-48 and it was strictly due to them committing too many turnovers and Houston being the spectacular three-point shooting team that they are.

The Thunders offense was just careless. Passes weren’t crisp, ball-movement was non-existent and at times and they seemed to try to go bucket-for-bucket with the Rockets…at the wrong time. They turned the ball over 11 times in that first half and the Rockets valued the ball much more by only committing two.

In addition, Houston’s three-point shooting was hard to stop or better yet, James Harden. As Terrance Ferguson played outstanding on-ball defense on Harden, he just made tough shots, which is the reason he leads the race for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player. Houston connected on 14-of-27 threes in the first half, so with that and the fact that the Thunder were turning the ball over at a high rate, that justified Houston’s hefty halftime lead.

OKC fortified their defense and started to actively bit for turnovers and it worked. Houston forfeited the ball to the Thunder seven times in the third quarter, which translated to the offensive end where the Thunder outscored the Rockets 42-20.

Note: Harden sat for an extended amount of time in the third quarter due to left shoulder discomfort.

The Thunder entered the fourth quarter knotted up with the Rockets at 90 points. George had 30 points at the time but definitely wasn’t finished.

As many have grown accustomed to, Westbrook was overextending himself on the offensive end of the floor by the way of shot attempts early in the period. After missing six shots halfway through the quarter Billy Donovan signaled for a timeout. My guess is as good as yours as to what was said in that huddle but before the timeout, George wasn’t getting looks and Westbrook was taking all of the shots.

After the timeout, things started to change. Westbrook calmed down and the Thunder began to mimic the third quarter to close the game out.

After going 1-of-6 in the fourth quarter, Westbrook penetrates for an uncontested driving layup that ended up being the game-winning basket with 26.9 seconds remaining.

The story of this game is how the Thunder were able to completely flip the script to win a big game on the road after being down by nearly 30 points. George beefed up his MVP stock after out-scoring James Harden with 45 points and 11 rebounds on 12-of-22 (54.5 percent) shooting.

Westbrook recorded his ninth-straight triple-double and 22nd of the season with 21 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists and the Thunder improve to (36-19) on the season.

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