Regular Season Recap: Thunder vs Rockets

ROCKETS 104

THUNDER 103
5 Number of players who scored in double figures for the Thunder

10 Number of players who scored for the Thunder on the night

12 Rebounds by Kevin Durant in addition to his 28 points and four 3-pointers

12 Points by Serge Ibaka in addition to 8 rebounds and two blocks

15 Lead changes in the game on the night, which also included 12 ties

15 Offensive rebounds for the Thunder, leading to 18 second chance points

22 Assists on the night for the Thunder on 39 made baskets, including 7 by James Harden

47 Rebounds for the Thunder on the night, ten more than the Rockets

The Thunder will hit the road for one game as it travels to Denver to face the Nuggets on Thursday. Game time is 8:00 p.m. Central and will air live on Fox Sports Oklahoma and the Thunder Radio Network.

The Thunder then returns home to host the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night and then the Portland Trailblazers on Sunday nigh before playing at the Utah Jazz on Tuesday.

"We have to move on and see where we can get better and get one on the road," Durant said after the game.

GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
Sometimes in basketball, things can go badly very quickly and all at once, and unfortunately for the Thunder on Tuesday night, that happened in the final 2:29 of the fourth quarter as the Houston Rockets erased an 11-point deficit to steal a 104-103 victory at Chesapeake Energy Arena. It was only the Thunder's third home loss of the season and tenth loss overall on the year, but nevertheless Head Coach Scott Brooks' team constantly seeks to improve and play its best basketball for 48 minutes. While the Thunder did a nice job of staying in the game by executing on offense through James Harden and Serge Ibaka in the middle of the fourth quarter, it just wasn't able to make enough plays in the waning minutes to get the win.

"That was a tough loss to take," Brooks said. "There's no doubt. We did a lot of good things to get back into the game and take a lead, but our late-game execution on both ends of the floor wasn't up to the level that we've been at all season. One of the strengths of our team is executing down the stretch. We've improved in that area. Tonight wasn't good on both ends."

The Thunder was down by five points with 9:59 left in the fourth quarter, but made a nice push to turn an 84-79 deficit into a 102-91 lead late in the fourth quarter. That 23-7 run was dominated by the ball-handling of Harden, the passing of Kendrick Perkins and the finishing of Ibaka and Nazr Mohammed, who finished with 12 and 10 points respectively. Coach Brooks said that Harden is a very good ball-handler and playmaker and the team has been putting the ball in his hands more and more this season. Brooks also praised Mohammed's minutes and the way he did his job, which Kevin Durant agreed with after the game. First Durant spoke about the way Harden was being pressured at the top of the key then worked with Perkins and Ibaka to help the Thunder build its 11-point lead.

"It was working for us, we were passing the ball to each other and finishing plays," Durant said. "We have to continue to just keep playing together and we'll be okay... They did a tremendous job for us. Serge was really good, Nazr came in and gave us really big minutes. I wish we could have won the game for them."

Ibaka and Harden combined for 17 points in the fourht quarter, while Mohammed had four points of his own. In addition, Ibaka had four rebounds in the final 12 minutes while Harden had four assists during the same time frame. Harden was continually able to get into the lane and finish at the rim through contact when he wasn't finding open teammates for one of his seven assists on the night. Whether it was put-back dunks, 18-foot jump shots or cuts to the lane that finished off nice passes, Ibaka seemingly became a go-to guy in the fourth quarter in some of the Thunder's offensive sets. After the game, Ibaka talked about the rhythm he got into late in the game in addition to the way Harden and Perkins were able to help facilitate his scoring.

"I think just focus," Ibaka explained. "I started slow in the first two quarters and then I came back in the last quarter and tried to play hard and help my team. We know James is a good playmaker, so everytime he had the ball you have to ready. Perk did a great job tonight passing the ball. It was a tough loss though."

TURNING POINT:
The Thunder held a seemingly strong 11-point lead at 102-91 after a Serge Ibaka put-back dunk with 2:29 remaining in the game, but the Rockets went on a 13-1 run to close out the contest to steal a 104-103 victory on a Courtney Lee 3-pointer with 15.1 seconds remaining. Rockets guard Goran Dragic made a reverse layup, Patrick Patterson made a transition dunk, then Chase Budinger hit a 3-pointer. Lee then made a driving layup 15 seconds before his game-winning 3-pointer. During the final two-and-a-half minutes the Thunder missed four shots, one foul shot and turned the ball over twice.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Russell Westbrook hammers home a huge slam dunk in the lane after a nice pick-and-roll... Nice defensive possession by Kendrick Perkins to contain Luis Scola, then he hits a turn-around jumper on the offensive end... Really tough offensive rebound by Serge Ibaka, which he followed up with a kick-out to Kevin Durant for a 3-pointer then a huge block on the defensive end... Smart drop off pass from Perkins to Westbrook after a cut to the lane by Westbrook... Great hustle by Durant to block a shot from behind, then James Harden knocks down a 3-pointer with a guy in his face... Perfect outlet pass off a rebound by Perkins to Harden, who gets fouled... Incredible work by Nick Collison to secure a defensive rebound then acrobatically pitch it ahead to Harden... Great work to draw a charge by Collison on Goran Dragic... Unreal step-back jumper from Harden in the corner... Nice job by Reggie Jackson to circle under the basket and find Collison for an elbow jumper... Strong rebound by Nazr Mohammed then Harden somehow slides through the lane tipping and knocking a loose ball to himself to get possession... Good job by Mohammed and Collison to stick with the play and get an offensive rebound in addition to saving a loose ball... Beautiful interior bounce pass from Collison to Mohammed in the lane... Two tough offensive rebounds by Collison and Perkins to ultimately draw a foul... Perfect screen by Perkins to free up Westbrook for a 3-pointer... Quick hands by Ibaka to pull in a loose ball for a steal, then Perkins boxes out so well that he draws a foul... Slick drive-and-kick from Durant to Ibaka for a jumper... Royal Ivey does a great job of closing out on a potential corner 3-pointer, forcing another pass and taking away the shot and drive.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Nice hustle by Durant to stick with a defensive rebound and pick up the loose ball... Picture-perfect drive-and-dish by Westbrook to Durant for a 3-pointer, then Westbrook tips a defensive rebound out to Ibaka... Great job of staying down by Perkins on a Scola shot fake, then he boxes out Dalembert to free up Ibaka for a rebound... Ibaka with a basket-saving block, then Perkins pulls in the rebound... Nice re-positioning by Daequan Cook after a pump fake to hit a jumper... Westbrook putting insane amounts of pressure on Dragic and eventually forces a travel... Ibaka follows up a Durant miss with a big put-bakc then grabs a defensive board... Durant flies through the lane and almost finishes the dunk for a 3-point play, gets two free throws instead... Collison in the right place at the right time to finish up a Westbrook miss... Durant tuckes the ball and runs through the lane with two monster steps for a layup... Incredible cross-court pass from Durant to Ivey for a corner 3-pointer... Great pass on a screen-and-roll by Harden to Mohammed for a lay-up to end the quarter... Efficient dribbling by Harden to slink his way into the lane for a layup, then Collison and Ivey hustle to make sure a loose ball ends up in Thunder hands... Harden then somehow makes his way into the paint again for a strong 3-point play... Good box out from Collison then great determination by Mohammed to stick with his miss and put in a layup... Harden makes a steal, then finds Ivey on the fast break as the Thunder crowd stands to cheer... Ivey again with a nice close-out then Harden finds Jackson for a huge 3-pointer... Westbrook makes an important offensive rebound then kicks to Harden who steps into a 3-pointer... Pretty dish from Harden to Mohammed for a reverse layup... Perfect defense by Perkins on Scola then Westbrook clears the defensive glass with good positioning... Unbelievable no-look pass from Harden to a cutting Ibaka for a dunk... Great offensive execution as Harden passes out of a trap to Perkins, who finds Ibaka for a mid-range jumper, then the trio teams up again!... Durant hustles to get to a loose ball then draws a foul as he went to the cup hard... Ibaka pulls in a ball off the backboard and slams one home... Ibaka grabs a huge rebound and tries to get through contact for the potential game-winning layup.