Oklahoma City Thunder found their old team mate again tonight. The Thunder wasted no time, using a 16-0 run to end the second quarter to pull away from the Houston Rockets and win 124-94. Kevin Durant struggled early in the first half, found his stroke and finished with 26 points. Russell Westbrook was the player of the game with 28 points, eight rebounds, eight assists as the Thunder improve to 23-6 on the season.
Harden wanted to come out and try to prove he’s worth 80 million dollars. However, Thabo Sefolosha had other ideas. After hitting his first shot of the game, Harden struggled for most of the game. He shot just 4-for-12 in the first half for 14 points. 14 points on 12 shots is NOT a good thing for him. Great thing for the Thunder.
Oklahoma City and Houston were in a straight rat race to start the game. There were 20 different possessions in the first FIVE minutes alone. Oklahoma City had trouble early. Kevin Durant struggled, he was 1-for-6 in the first quarter, and couldn’t find his mark. That’s where Russell Westbrook came through. Westbrook kept them afloat as the Rockets built an six point lead 22-16 with 4:29 left in the quarter. Kevin Martin came off the bench and helped as well. Marin nailed two threes in the final minutes to help fuel a 15-4 run to end the quarter.
In the second quarter, Oklahoma City and Houston continued to trade baskets to start the quarter. Oklahoma City would continually try to extend their lead but they could not stop the Rockets. Westbrook and Martin continued to fire off baskets with the Rockets in the midst of the Durant struggles. Oklahoma City never let up though.
After an and-one from Jeremy Lin. The Thunder decided enough was enough. Oklahoma City rolled off a 16-0 run over the final 3:22 of the game. The Thunder forced the Rockets to go 0-for-6 during that stretch with five turnovers. Oklahoma City was led by Durant, who finally found his touch, and scored 11 points during the run, including a three with one second to go. 68 points for Oklahoma City at halftime is a season high for the Thunder.
Scoring was spread around for the Thunder, especially with so many points scored. Nick Collison had a double-double tonight. It was Collison’s first double-double since January 8th, 2012 against San Antonio. Martin chipped in 19 points in the game, 13 in the first half. Oklahoma City’s bench outscored Houston’s bench 34-24. Only Eric Maynor was the only Thunder player who did not score tonight. However, he did have an assist on Jeremy Lamb’s lone basket.
Westbrook started the second half just like he did the first half. He nailed his first two shots, then dished off to Thabo Sefolosha for lay up. Oklahoma City extended their run to as much as 34-8 over a span of eight minutes and 34 seconds. Oklahoma City extended their lead to 87-60 before Houston started to try and do something. Rockets popped off a quick five points before coach Scott Brooks called a time out with 2:44 left in the third quarter.
Something that doesn’t happen very often, the Thunder bench came out and performed well, extending the lead. Led by Martin, other players were contributing as well. Collison had a double-double, (12 points, 10 rebounds). Oklahoma City’s reserves pushed the lead up to as many as 34 points in the fourth quarter. Usually teams close the gap in the fourth, such as what happened the first time these two play, not this time.
Keys to the Game
Three Pointers: A+
The Thunder came out and hit the Thunder Money ball well tonight. Oklahoma City finished 13-for-29 from deep. That’s good enough for 44.8 percent. Then the defense decided it was going to get in the act. They limited the Houston offense to just eight made three balls on 30 attempts. Just 26.7 percent. This was just a dominant outing, all around.
Turnover Battle: B
Thunder forced 24 turnovers tonight, turning it into 32 points tonight. Oklahoma City did turn it over 21 times themselves. However, seven of them were in the fourth quarter when the reserves were in the game. So, I won’t hold that against them. I will applaud the solid defense tonight though. Especially after it started out so poor.
Thabo vs. Harden II: A+
Harden hit his first shot of the game. It wasn’t going to be that easy the rest of the game. Harden had 25 points on 6-for-17 shooting. He also turned the ball over four times. Sefolosha made it a nightmare for him all night. Thabo also showed why he guards the team’s best shooter every night. He’s a straight stud.