Notebook: Thunder 120, Rockets 91



Posted Apr 22, 2013 1:35 AM

Randy Renner, for NBA.com

THE FACTS: The Oklahoma City Thunder took a little while to get rolling but once they got going the Houston Rockets could not get out of the way of an avalanche and were buried 120-91 in Game 1 of their first round Western Conference playoff series.

The Thunder led by as many as 35 and Kevin Durant led the way with 24 points, Russell Westbrook just missed a triple-double with 19 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds. Serge Ibaka added 17 points, seven rebounds and three blocks and OKC sixth man Kevin Martin dropped in 16 points.

James Harden led the Rockets with 20 points (six below his average) and it took him 19 shots to get there. In two games at Chesapeake Energy Arena this season Harden has averaged 18.5 points on 9-for-35 shooting (25.7 percent). No other Rockets starter made it into double figures. Patrick Beverley came off the bench to score 11 points and Carlos Delfino had 10 off the bench. Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons struggled against the Oklahoma City defense. Parsons had nine points on 4-for-11 (1-for-5 from three) shooting and Lin managed just four points on 1-for-7 shooting, four assists and four turnovers.

Oklahoma City shot 53 percent and held Houston to just 36.3 percent shooting overall and just 22.2 percent on 3-pointers.

QUOTABLE: "I thought our defense was outstanding throughout the game. They're explosive and can beat you lots of different ways but I thought we were really locked in and played about as good as you can play. Everybody has defensive responsibilities we can't have four guys playing and one guy watching and I thought all five guys were locked in tonight."

-- Thunder coach Scott Brooks

QUOTABLE II: "I thought we had kind of a nervous start, then we had some turnovers after we tied it up in the second quarter. We just didn't have much flow offensively and we just couldn't get our footing and they ended up taking it to us pretty good."

-- Rockets coach Kevin McHale

THE STAT: Houston turned the ball over 15 times (leading to 21 Thunder points) and had just 17 assists. Oklahoma City finished with 13 turnovers (leading to just 12 Houston points) and handed out 28 assists.

TURNING POINT: A 20-5 run by the Thunder late in the second quarter turned a 40-40 seat-squirmer into a comfortable 60-45 OKC lead just before the halftime buzzer. The Thunder never let the lead get back to single digits.

QUOTABLE III: "We knew they would make a run but then we caught fire in the last five minutes of the second quarter, I thought our ball movement was just outstanding."

-- Brooks

HOT: OKC was 14-for-22 (63.6 percent) in the second quarter and finished 44-for-83 (53 percent). ... OKC was also good from beyond the arc, hitting 41.7 percent (10-for-24).

NOT: The Rockets missed their first nine shots of the game and turned it over three times. ... They finished the first quarter shooting 25 percent (5-for-20) but were just 1-for-8 (12.5 percent) on 3s. ... Oklahoma City didn't fare much better shooting 36 percent (9-for-25). ... Houston shot 36.4 percent (16-for-44) overall and only 22.2 percent (4-for-18) on 3-pointers at halftime. ... Lin was 1-for-6 (four points) and three turnovers in the first 24 minutes. ... Houston was just 8-for-36 (22.2 percent) on 3-pointers.

QUOTABLE IV: "We wanted to try to make them uncomfortable every time down the court. We still gotta do a better job of moving them off their spots. We wanted to attack the paint and be aggressive and protect our home floor but we haven't done anything yet."

-- Durant

INSIDE THE ARENA: The 108th consecutive sell-out inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. Fans gathered more than three hours before tipoff for a street party outside the arena. Oklahoma City resident Larry Hill drilled a half-court shot between the third and fourth quarters and won $20,000. That's the third time this season that's happened.

GOOD MOVE: Late in the second quarter Ibaka blocks a running jumper by Delfino, the ball goes straight into the hands of Sefolosha, who passes the length of the court to a wide open Perkins for a slam.

GOOD MOVE TOO: Brooks preached the last few days about the importance of transition defense and it was there Sunday. Houston scored 20 fast-break points but didn't really get loose like the Rockets have in some games. Brooks didn't want his players to waste time celebrating made baskets or complaining about officials' calls and they didn't.

BAD MOVE: The Rockets had a difficult time dealing with Oklahoma City's switching on defense. Houston's offense became stagnant and confused at times. The Rockets knew what was coming (OKC has switched on defense all season long), but knowing what's coming and being able to deal with it are two different things.

QUOTABLE V: "Believe it or not I think losing like this will be good for us. We'll get better out of it, we'll look at the film and see what we need to do to get better. But just coming out here and being in a playoff atmosphere, on the road, it's good for us. We just gotta get more rebounds."

-- Harden

NOTABLE: The Rockets came in having won the opening game of their last three playoff series, all on the road, in 2005 and two series in 2009. No NBA team has ever won the opening game of a series on the road four straight times and that record remains intact.

UP NEXT: Game 2 Wednesday @ Oklahoma City, Game 3 Saturday @ Houston, Game 4 April 29 @ Houston.