Chris Paul was dang near unstoppable. Russell Westbrook, well... he mostly just stopped himself.
CP3 finished with 28 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals, including 15 points in the fourth quarter of a razor-tight contest, going a perfect 3-3 from deep in the final frame.
Meanwhile, Russ finished with 17 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists, but he coughed the ball up seven times, mostly on awful-looking passes, including one with 7.6 seconds left to seal the game. He also shot an airball down the fourth-quarter stretch, looking rusty and not fully healthy.
CP3 was doing what we haven’t seen from him since 2018, hunting guys on switches (namely Robert Covington) and either blowing by them or cashing a three. It was a vintage Chris Paul performance at the best possible time for the Thunder and worst possible time for the Rockets. Some of Westbrook’s critics might say this was a vintage Russ performance as well, looking out of control at times as the sloppy Rockets flubbed away a chance to close this series early.
They turned the ball over a whopping 22 times after averaging just 11 per game in the series before tonight, and that carelessness offset better shooting by the Rockets, who finished with 45 percent from the field and 15 threes to the Thunder’s 42 percent from the field and 12 threes.
Houston was led by James Harden, who finished with 32 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists on 11-22 shooting, but he was just 3-11 from deep and also committed 5 turnovers.
In addition, the Rockets got 18 points, 5 rebounds, 5 steals, and 3 blocks from Robert Covington, who was also 4-6 from three, but it appears the Thunder found a weakness in RoCo’s lateral quickness and exploited that down the stretch to help send them to victory.
Houston also got 12 from Danuel House off of the bench, but other than that, the second unit was non-existent, as Austin Rivers, Ben McLemore, and Jeff Green combined for 3 total points. They’ll have to be better if Houston is going to advance.
After Paul, the Thunder were led by Danilo Gallinari, who finished with 25 points and 4 triples, Luguentz Dort, who finished with 13, Dennis Schroder, who tallied 12, and Steven Adams who had 6 points and 14 rebounds.
The Rockets and Thunder now have a day off before a pivotal Game 7 on Wednesday night. I’d like to remind everyone that I picked Rockets in seven games before the series started, so hopefully I’m right on with that. If not, there’s a whole slew of questions behind a first-round exit by Houston, but I’ll talk about that a little further tomorrow.