There were so many moments when it looked like the Thunder would run away with this one, but it wasn't until the clock hit zero that the result was clear. The Rockets fought back hard, but came up just a little bit short in a thrilling 103-100 Thunder victory. James Harden was magnificent, keying an improbable Rockets run that saw the Rockets go from 10 down to 4 up with just three and a half minutes to go, and finishing with 36 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists. Patrick Beverley also had an excellent performance, giving the Rockets 16 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists while filling in for Jeremy Lin who went down with a chest injury.
As has been the case so often this season, an inability to execute down the stretch doomed the Rockets. They led by four after a Carlos Delfino three with 3:27 left in the fourth, but a quick 10-2 run by the Thunder turned that four point lead into a four point deficit as the Rockets missed shot after shot and the Thunder hit everything they looked at.
Then, when all the chips were down with 14 seconds left, the Rockets had the ball and a chance to pull within one with a three pointer. Carlos Delfino and Patrick Beverley promptly held the ball for 12 seconds until Beverley scored on a floater with 1.6 seconds to go that was too little, too late. Carlos Delfino had a chance for a 90 footer at the buzzer to tie, but that, like the Rockets, fell short.
These games are painful to watch at times, but extremely important for the Rockets' growth as a young team. James Harden is growing into his role as a first option, Patrick Beverley is quietly becoming one of the better reserve guards in the league, and Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin are entering their first season in the playoffs. What they are finding is that it's a completely different game. Just as this current Thunder team went through these growing pains, so must the Rockets. A year or two from now, and they'll be better for it.