The Thunder finally hang a W in the win column last night, as they hold off another late charge by the Rockets, winning on their home court 115-113. Harden lead the way for the Rockets with 44 PTs, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Westbrook and Co. Westbrook joins Oscar Robertson as the only NBA players with consecutive 30-point triple-doubles in the playoffs finishing with 32 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists.
This game started out just as the first two of the series had, with OKC jumping out to a big lead early. Up by 15 points in the first quarter, a haunting feeling of “can they hold on” creeps back up. This time the early lead withstood the Rocket’s again better second half play. The end of the game was not, as Westbrook went 3-6 with clutch free throws in the fourth. However, Harden missed two 3 pointers down the stretch they could have put HOU over for the win.
Playing behind a controlled Westbrook for the entire game, the Thunder essentially played a perfect game on Friday night. Shooting 55% from the field and 47% from deep, it’s hard to see The Thunder emulating these numbers for the remainder of the series.
Taj Gibson was able to pour in 20 points tonight on 10-13shooting from the field. Three other Thunder finished in double figures as well with Roberson, Kanter, and Oladipo pushing the offense as well. The Thunder were able to get the offensive bursts they needed, allowing Westbrook to put trust in his teammates throughout the night. Even Norris Cole was able tochip in 5 points tonight in the win.
Despite heavy support from Lou Williams and Ryan Anderson, the Rockets weren’t able to overcome the concert of scoring behind Westbrook. Going an uncharacteristic 10-35 from deep this game didn’t help their cause tonight. Harden also wasn’t his usual efficient self only going 11-21 from the field.
Despite this being a loss, HOU may not be feeling too bad. With an off night from their MVP and the Thunder playing spectacularly, they were still within reach of the win on the road.
Houston still has control of the series, but Oklahoma City at home is a different animal. Roberson is continuing his silently great series and is a big reason OKC can push this series to 2-2 after Sunday’s afternoon game. If Adams can awaken next to Gibson this series can turn around for the Thunder and this MVP duel can become even more exciting.
Baseline Times Staff Writer