The Thunder Big Three combined for 75 points as the trio led the Thunder victory by a score of 112-107.
The win marked Oklahoma City’s fifth in a row as Houston dropped its third consecutive game after winning 14 straight.
The game was easily the most entertaining of the day in a group of close contests. No team led by more than eight points and every possession counted down the stretch. Ultimately, the Thunder had the better basketball down the stretch and took the win.
Russell Westbrook started out slow in the first half, only making two of his first 12 shots. However, as the game progressed, the reigning MVP caught fire and connected on nine of his next 10 buckets. His teammates were able to keep the Thunder in the game, however, as nobody had an off night. Carmelo Anthony made eight of 12 shots and Paul George also had a solid night, sinking eight of 15.
The game started off as a battle between the bigs. Steven Adams had 15 first half points and Clint Capela added 10 for himself as well. Capela, who missed Friday’s game with a sore heel, was utilized plenty tonight. The big man ended the game with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
With both bigs contributing in the first half, the game shifted towards a battle of superstars between Westbrook and Harden. Like Westbrook, Harden had a quiet first half, scoring only nine points on one shot. The third quarter was when he heated up and dropped 14 points. He ended the game with 29 and 14 assists. Harden has scored 20+ in all 32 games this season.
The teams entered the fourth quarter tied at 88, and this was when the game really started. The defense began to tighten up and the Loud City crowd began to liven. Oklahoma City went on a 9-2 run spanning three minutes to take a four-point lead, the largest in the quarter at the time.
For the second game in a row, the Rockets resorted to hacking the opponent’s worst foul shooter. Andre Roberson was hacked twice and made two of his free throws, he airballed one of his misses, but that’s beside the point.
Houston and Oklahoma City traded three buckets, but then the Rockets stiffened up. Capela missed two free throws, Ariza missed a triple, and Roberson, who had been taken out of the game for his poor free throws, came back in to block Harden’s potential game-tying three.
At the end, the Thunder made the plays the Rockets needed to make. It’s certainly possible that if Chris Paul or Luc Mbah a Moute had been in, the outcome would be different. Two of our best defenders could have helped reduce the 54.4 percent shooting OKC had from the field.
Simply put, OKC is figuring it out. Westbrook is taking a leadership role, and the supporting cast is not taking a back seat, but they are complementing him well. Nobody had a bad shooting night, and it wasn’t as if Houston had terrible defense. Melo and PG were making difficult shots, same as Russ, but the shots went in. Have to hand credit where it is due.
Tonight was the beginning of a difficult road trip for Houston and all we want for Christmas is for CP3 and LMAM to get healthy.
Rockets get another shot to break the losing streak on Thursday as they head to Boston to face the Celtics. Tipoff is at 7 PM CT.