Houston Rockets Lose Tough Game In OKC-Player Grades
On a night where James Harden struggled from the field, a cold fourth quarter cost the Houston Rockets a win in OKC.
Following their victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, the Houston Rockets took their high scoring offense to Oklahoma City, in a showdown against the Thunder. After starting the season with a 6-1 record, the Rockets faced a Thunder team desperate for a win after losing four straight games.
Led by guard Victor Oladipo, the Thunder opened the game on a 21-8 run early in the first. However, thanks to the hot shooting by Sam Dekker and Trevor Ariza, the Rockets managed to cut Oklahoma’s lead down to six, 38-32.
Behind Houston’s second unit, the Rockets opened the second half on an 11-2 run to take a 43-40 lead midway through the second quarter. Unfortunately, the Rockets did not hold on to their lead for long thanks to the 10 second-quarter points by Russell Westbrook. With Westbrook on fire and Harden struggling, OKC took at 65-63 lead into the half.
Houston took advantage of the Thunder’s poor start to build a 95-90 lead heading into the fourth. Unfortunately, the Thunder’s defense proved to be too much for the Rockets as they scored only 10 points in the fourth. Oklahoma City would go on an 11-3 run to end their four-game losing streak.
Adding insult to injury was the Russell Westbrook dunk to seal the victory for the Thunder:
C, Houston Rockets
PF, Houston Rockets
SF, Houston Rockets
PG, Houston Rockets
SG, Houston Rockets
Editor’s note: I would have cut Gordon a bit more slack given he also contributed 5 rebounds, 4 assists a block and was the highest plus – minus starting player with a plus 7. While plus-minus isn’t always an indication of effort or defense the fact only Clint Capela and the reserves posted positive differential’s speaks to their defensive efforts on the floor.
SF, Houston Rockets
SG, Oklahoma City Thunder
Billed as a match-up between the top 6 offense (Rockets) and top 6 defense (OKC) this was going to come down to which team had a better mastery of their top asset. In the end it was the Thunder who shut the door on the Rockets specifically in the final frame when the Thunder held the Rockets to 13 points.
Also of note this game featured 2 of the Association’s top talents in Harden and Westbrook. Each star entered the night averaging over 30 points per game (along with 3 others: DeMar DeRozan, Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard). After this game the fact Harden scored just 13 points drops him from that list. Also of note these 2 MVP candidates both coughed up the ball 6 times adding to their growing problem of turning the ball over.
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For Rockets fans who were disappointed by the loss feeling Houston should have easily had the victory it’s important to note the Thunder have a very solid defensive team. And, while the Rockets went cold from deep this points more to the fact D’Antoni and Bzdelkiik have more work to do with the squad on the defensive end. Furthermore, when the 3 isn’t falling perhaps it’s time to for D’Antoni to get his players to drive the ball. Certainly if the Rockets mixed up their offense with drives they would be far more difficult to stop. Teams expect Houston to shot threes and that is something that needs to be addressed.
Now the Rockets return home to face the Blazers on the back end of their back to back. The good news is Patrick Beverley is expected to return and be in the starting line-up. Let’s cross our fingers that allows for a better overall defensive effort with PBev back in the mix.
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