Winning on the road typically takes toughness and perseverance.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have been excelling in both areas
The Thunder look to win six consecutive road games for the first
time in nearly six years when they visit the struggling Houston
Rockets on Sunday night.
Oklahoma City (11-5) seemed to be headed to a second straight
defeat Friday in Indiana, trailing by 14 points early in the third
quarter and by five with 2:02 remaining in regulation, but it
rallied to send the game to overtime and went on to win 110-106.
Russell Westbrook finished with a career-high 43 points, while
Kevin Durant scored 11 of his 25 in the final two minutes and
overtime to send the Thunder to their sixth win in seven games.
“We were rewarded for our hard work and perseverance,” said
Durant, whose three-point play tied it at 96 with 45 seconds to
play in regulation. “It was a good win for us. (It) was one of
those games where we had to grind it out.”
Oklahoma City has had several games like that during its
five-game road winning streak. Two games have gone to overtime,
while the other three have all been one possession games in the
final 12 seconds.
“You like to hear words like tough and scrappy,” Thunder coach
Scott Brooks said. “Our team is improving in those daily.”
Oklahoma City is trying to win six consecutive road games for
the first time since Dec. 8-Jan. 3, 2005, when the franchise was
based in Seattle. It has been about the same amount of time since
the franchise’s last win in Houston, an 87-85 victory Feb. 22,
2005. The Thunder have lost 10 straight there, their longest active
road losing streak against any opponent.
Oklahoma City appears to have a good chance of snapping that
streak, however, as the banged-up Rockets (4-11) are off to their
worst start since opening 4-12 in 2005-06.
The Thunder also defeated the Rockets 116-99 on Nov. 17, as
Durant had 24 points, while Westbrook added 21 and 12 assists.
Oklahoma City has won the last two in the series after losing 19 of
the previous 20.
Playing without the injured Yao Ming and Aaron Brooks, who are
both still “weeks away” from returning, according to coach Rick
Adelman, Houston is coming off Friday’s 99-89 loss to Charlotte.
The Rockets, losers of five of six, led by seven points at
halftime, but were outscored by 11 in the third quarter and unable
“We need to be smarter than that,” said Luis Scola, who was held
to 11 points – 10.5 less than his season average. “We’ve got to
know those runs are coming and we’ve got to not let that
Houston also needs to shoot the ball better. The starting five
shot 34.7 percent (17 of 49) and the team finished with a season
low in points. The Rockets have lost all seven of their games when
scoring fewer than 100 points.
“It’s a make-or-miss league. By that, when you miss shots, the
sky is falling down,” said Shane Battier, who is averaging 8.3
points on 27.3 percent shooting in his last three games. “When you
make shots everything is honky-dory. Sometimes it is as simple as