Notebook: Thunder 105, Rockets 102



Posted Apr 24, 2013 11:20 PM

Randy Renner, for NBA.com

THE FACTS: The Oklahoma City Thunder blew a 15-point lead late against the Houston Rockets then grabbed the advantage back, held on for dear life, and escaped with a thrilling 105-102 win to take a 2-0 lead in their first round Western Conference playoff series.

The Rockets played much better in Game 2 after being blown out by 29 points in the opener. James Harden led all scorers with 36 points for Houston, 12 of them coming in the fourth quarter. But it wasn't enough to offset big nights from Thunder stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who each scored 29. Durant started the game 6-for-10 but was just 4-for-15 after that. He also handed out nine assists. Serge Ibaka had a double-double with 12 points, 11 rebounds and six blocked shots. Thabo Sefolosha dropped in 11 (including three 3-pointers) and sixth man Kevin Martin added 10 and also had three 3-pointers.

In addition to his 36 points, Harden also grabbed 11 rebounds and was 17-for-20 at the free throw line. The rest of the Rockets combined were 3-for-5 at the stripe. Chandler Parsons bounced back from a poor Game 1 to score 17 points and pull down seven rebounds. But it was the play of rookie Patrick Beverley that launched the Rockets. He had 16 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. He helped spark a 21-2 run late in the game that pulled the Rockets out of a 15-point hole to gain a brief lead in the fourth quarter before OKC went on a 10-2 run to take the game back.

QUOTABLE: "It was a hard fought game, both teams laid it on the line out there. We knew they'd play much better. They were more aggressive getting to the paint. We've been on both sides of those big runs and I told the guys to just stay composed and trust each other."

-- Thunder coach Scott Brooks

THE STAT: The Rockets started a small lineup, with three players 6-foot-5 and under. Despite that apparent disadvantage Houston dominated the boards, outrebounding OKC 57-40. A good chunk of those boards, 18 of them, came off the offensive glass. Houston also outscored Oklahoma City 50-30 in the paint.

TURNING POINT: Durant blocked a Parsons layup with three minutes to play and then 30 seconds later scored his first basket of the fourth quarter, a 3-pointer, that gave Oklahoma City a lead they would not give up.

QUOTABLE II: "We have a young team but they're a bunch of scrappers. We'll fight you. I knew our guys would play better tonight and we did. Now we have to go back to Houston and figure out a way to beat these guys."

-- Rockets coach Kevin McHale

HOT: Parsons started 4-for-6 (nine points). ... Durant started 5-for-9 (10 points) and finished the first half 8-for-15 (21 points). ... Beverley was 3-for-4 (seven points) in the fourth quarter. ... Harden was 6-for-8 on free throws in the fourth. ... Houston grabbed 17 rebounds in the fourth quarter.

NOT: Martin was 1-for-5 (1-for-4 on threes) in the first half. ... Westbrook was 2-for-8 in the fourth quarter.

INSIDE THE ARENA: The 109th consecutive sell-out inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. Among those in the crowd, legendary former Oklahoma State basketball coach Eddie Sutton and legendary former University of Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer.

GOOD MOVE: McHale wanted his guys to be more aggressive, take some charges, share the ball better and get some rebounds. In the first half all of that happened. The Rockets looked much more comfortable and McHale's move to insert Beverley into the starting lineup paid big dividends getting Westbrook in foul trouble and frustrating him on several drives.

GOOD MOVE II: McHale went to a soft 2-3 zone in the fourth quarter and the Thunder had trouble with it. Their three fourth quarter turnovers all came against the zone.

QUOTABLE III: "They threw that zone at us and I think it caught us off guard a little bit. We were passive against it at first then got more aggressive. We gotta go back and make adjustments for Game 3."

-- Durant

BAD MOVE: With a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter the Thunder may have started to relax a little bit. They also moved away from what had worked for them, settling for long jumpers, which missed. During that stretch Oklahoma City missed six straight shots, the closest from 16-feet.

QUOTABLE IV: "We were down 15 points and we could have just given up and gone on to Game 3 but we fought back so that gives us some confidence."

-- Harden

NOTABLE: Lin did not return to the game after halftime. He's been diagnosed with a bruised chest and his availability for Game 3 is uncertain.

UP NEXT: Game 3, Saturday @ Houston, Game 4, Monday @ Houston, Game 5 (if necessary), Wednesday @ Oklahoma City.