Regular Season Recap: Thunder at Rockets

THUNDER 98

ROCKETS 95
5 Offensive rebounds by Nick Collison; he had six total.

6 Offensive rebounds by Kendrick Perkins; he had nine total. 

7 Thunder’s biggest lead.

8 Points scored by Kevin Durant to close the game and seal the win.

10 Consecutive points by Thunder center Nazr Mohammed during a stretch in the first half.

11 Times the game was tied.

12 Consecutive points by the Thunder to close the third quarter and tie the game at 72-72.

13 Points by Kevin Durant in the final quarter.

17 Points by Nazr Mohammed, his highest total with the Thunder.

18 Offensive rebounds by the Thunder.

36.4 Rockets’ shooting percentage in the fourth quarter.

38 Thunder points in the paint.

43.7 Shooting percentage of the Rockets, a testimony to the Thunder’s defense.

44 Rebounds by the Thunder.



The Thunder completes its back-to-back-to-back schedule with a game Sunday night against the San Antonio Spurs. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. in Chesapeake Energy Arena and will air live on Fox Sports Oklahoma and the Thunder Radio Network.

The Spurs come to Oklahoma City having played the Denver Nuggets on Saturday in San Antonio.

GAME IN REVIEW

RECAP:
Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks told anybody who would listen that the Rockets would be a different team than the one that played in Chesapeake Energy Arena just 24 hours earlier.

He was right. But in the end, the Thunder earned its second victory over the Rockets in as many nights, this time a 98-95 victory in Houston that was as thrilling as it was gutsy.

The Thunder trailed by as many as 12 points on four occasions in the third quarter and was down three with 2:03 remaining in the game.

But the Thunder would not buckle. Playing with what Brooks would define as “great energy”, the Thunder forced the Rockets to miss three shots and turn the ball over twice in that deciding stretch. Meantime, Kevin Durant was getting hot.

Durant, who scored 13 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, scored the Thunder’s final eight. Just as important, Durant grabbed a defensive rebound with 7.4 seconds remaining and the Thunder leading, 96-95. He made both free throws for the final margin.

“We were very fortunate to come out with a win,” Brooks said. “We knew going into the game we were going to get their best shot. … But we made plays down the stretch to win the game.

“The key part of our win was the effort.”

The Thunder defense limited the Rockets to 36.4 percent shooting in the final 12 minutes and 43.7 percent for the game. The Thunder also pulled down 44 rebounds (the Rockets had 41), including 18 on the offensive end.

TURNING POINT:
Late in the third quarter, the Rockets broke the game open with a 14-2 run that turned a 52-52 game into a 66-54 lead with 4:41 remaining in the quarter. It would be the first of four 12-point deficits in the period for the Thunder.

“We had a choice. It’s the moment of truth in every game,” Brooks said after the game. “Down 12, we beat them the night before, we could have said, ‘Tough, it’s not our night. But our guys are not like that … they love to compete.”

The Thunder responded with “great energy” and a renewed commitment on the defensive end that triggered a quarter-closing 12-0 run. Nazr Mohammed scored six of his 17 points in the final 2:38 of the period that knotted the game at 72-72.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Kendrick Perkins rising to emphatically block the shot of the Rockets’ Luis Scola. … James Harden drawing two defenders to him, fakes a drive and instead dumps the ball to Nazr Mohammed for a short jumper. … Eric Maynor driving the lane and using a bounce pass to feed Mohammed for a reverse layin. … Nick Collison driving to the rim and kicking it out to James Harden for a 3. … Perkins comes up with a steal on the defensive end, takes two dribbles and hits Kevin Durant with an outlet pass that leads to a slam dunk. … On the Rockets’ next possession, Perkins switches on defense and is guarding shooting guard Kevin Martin. Perk’s tenacious presence and wing span forces a over-and-back violation. … Russell Westbrook winning a jump ball with the Rockets’ Samuel Dalembert. … Durant driving the lane, lofting a left-handed runner to give the Thunder a 48-44 lead.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
On consecutive plays, Serge Ibaka rises to block one Rockets shot and seriously alter the other, resulting in a Thunder defensive rebound. … A Westbrook drive and release in the lane that bounces three times off the rim before going in. … Collison setting a knee-buckling screen to free a James Harden drive to the basket. Harden is fouled, but makes both free throws to pull the Thunder within 72-66. … Mohammed setting a screen to free Westbrook for a jumper from the elbow. … Collison with a great boxout to secure a defensive rebound. … Collison securing an offensive rebound and finding Harden, who drives to the rim and completes a three-point play. … Durant driving and going between his legs with the ball, shaking another defender and releasing a runner that counts as two points when Dalembert is called for goaltending.