Thunder Defense Gets Torched, Rockets Cruise to 122-112 Win in OKC
The Thunder offense wasn’t half bad on Tuesday night in Oklahoma City, hitting 12 shots from long distance and 49.5 percent of all field goal attempts. Russell Westbrook had 32 points, Carmelo Anthony pitched-in 23 points in a strong effort, and five OKC players reached double-figures in scoring. With 112 total points scored on the evening, it was a better-than-average offensive output for the home team.
Unfortunately, Houston’s offense was on a completely different level.
The Rockets exploded for 122 points, hitting 17-of-33 from downtown (51.5 percent) in the process. They shot 53.5 percent from the field, had seven men score in double-figures, and took 34 free throws to OKC’s 11. Houston was particularly deadly in the third quarter, as they shot 72 percent in the frame and opened up a double-digit lead that ballooned to as much as 19.
OKC showed some signs of life in the fourth quarter but was only able to get as close as eight with less than a minute remaining. All told, Houston escaped with a 122-112 victory — their 16th in a row. They were led by Chris Paul’s 25 points on 5-of-6 shooting from deep and 23 points, 11 assists, and four steals from James Harden.
The loss drops the Thunder to 37-29 on the season ahead of Thursday night’s game against the Suns. Let’s get to some notes on the loss.
17 & 51.5: The Rockets hit 17 three-pointers on a 51.5 percent clip. That’ll do.
-4: The Thunder was held to just 33 rebounds, as Houston was able to snag 37.
34 & 11: The Rockets shot 34 free throws and OKC shot 11. Westbrook got two all night and they didn’t come until there was 1:32 remaining in the game. George shot two, Melo got four, Adams got three…and that’s it. Moving on.
21 & 33: Oddly enough, the Thunder defense forced Houston into 21 turnovers — resulting in 33 points for OKC.
19 & 21: Not to be completely overshadowed, OKC turned it over 19 times — including six times in the first four and a half minutes of the game — resulting in 21 Houston points.
-18: The Rockets’ bench outscored OKC’s 39-21. Twas a problem.
8 & 1: There were eight lead changes and one tie.
I could go on-and-on all night about how terrible the Thunder defense was against Houston but it can pretty much be summed up in one 8-second clip. In it, Harden easily beats Melo off the dribble, gets to the rim for an easy lay-in, prompting Melo to scream “WHERE THE F*** WAS THE HELP?!”
It’s nearly poetic, isn’t it?
Steven Adams probably could have been there but the poor guy spent most of his night running toward the perimeter or stuck in limbo after being switched onto CP3 or Harden. Where is Andre Roberson when you need him?
With a three-pointer at the 5:09 mark of the first quarter, Carmelo Anthony passed Jerry West and assumed control of 20th-place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. In true Melo fashion, the bucket came with a hand in his face.
Melo had one of his better games in some time, scoring 23 points on 8/18 shooting. He was a +6 in his 33 minutes of action, just one of two Thunder starters to finish on the plus side.
Reggie Miller is up next on the scoring list, as Anthony trails him by less than 100 points for 19th all-time. This has been your bright spot in an otherwise depressing read.
Westbrook & Harden: Russell Westbrook led the way for OKC with 32 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds on 15/27 shooting. He turned the ball over nine times, which is far too many, but was otherwise fine. James Harden wrapped up with 23 points and 11 assists on 8/13 shooting but also struggled taking care of the basketball, committing 10 turnovers of his own.
PG & Steve: Paul George finished with 17 points, 5 assists, and 3 steals, shooting 7/16 from the floor. Steven Adams had a stat line of 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 steals. The issue with these two is they combined for 3 points on 1/8 shooting in the first half — then went 13/17 after halftime. Not enough from them early, although it’s hard to blame Adams for much when the offense doesn’t get to him. George going 2/8 from downtown made his three-point slump a real thing.
Corey Brewer: If you expected Corey Brewer to see plenty of action against the Rockets, you were proven absolutely correct. He logged 22 minutes, scored 10 points, shot 4/10 from the field (2/6 3P), fouled out and finished as a -20. He hit a couple three-pointers and proved he’s loaded full of energy….but he got three more minutes of run than Josh Huestis, who wrapped up his evening at +1 in 19 minutes. Alex Abrines saw just a few seconds of playing time at the very end of the game. Terrance Ferguson continues to somehow hang on, grabbing 8 minutes. Billy is doing stuff.
Death Blow: The teams traded buckets for most of the third quarter — a dangerous game against a team like Houston. After OKC scratched to within three points at the 6:53 mark, Houston went on a 15-3 run and opened up a double-digit lead that was ultimately insurmountable. CP3 led the charge during this time (and most of the night), scoring 11 points on 4/6 shooting in the frame.
The Other Guys. Seven players reached double-figures scoring for the Rockets: CP3 (25), Harden (23), Trevor Ariza (15), Eric Gordon (14), Luc Mbah a Moute (11), PJ Tucker (10), and Clint Capela (10).
Players Only: Tonight was one of the “Players Only” editions of NBA on TNT, with Brent Barry, Derek Fisher, and Nate Robinson on the call. This note is of no importance, other than to say that listening was hard and I hated every second of it. (Looking at you, Nate.)