The first half of Game 3 was very similar to Game 2, with the Thunder coming out with more energy, and the Rockets struggling to find an offensive flow. Taj Gibson really shined in the half and scored 12 points on 5-of-6 from the field. The Thunder led by as many as 15 points, but no lead should be trusted against Houston.
The Rockets started the third quarter with a 9-0 scoring run and the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run. Houston made tough, contested shots all night, but the Thunder held their composure on both ends of the floor. Russ missed big free throws in the fourth quarter, but he made much better decisions tonight late in the game. OKC barely pulled out this win and they’ll need to play even better in Game 4 if they plan to even the series.
- With 3:30 left in the third, Westbrook already had his triple-double. Russ played his best game of the series, finishing with 32 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists and 3 steals. He only shot one three-pointer, and was getting the switches he wanted on slower bigs and scoring effectively in the mid-range.
- The Thunder were +14 in assists and +15 for fast break points, while playing with great effort on both ends of the floor. Every Thunder starter had an assist, and every player that saw time on the floor recorded at least 4 points.
- Andre Roberson continues to be a Swiss army knife throughout this series. Harden dropped 44 points, but Roberson made him work hard yet again. He finished the night with 12 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks and 0 turnovers. He shot 2-of-3 from behind the arc and has scored double digits for all three playoff games. He’s only scored in double-digits for three consecutive games once in his career before tonight. He’s stepping up big time.
- Lou Williams and Ryan Anderson were hitting really tough shots tonight. In the first half, Williams had 16 points on 6-of-7 from the field and a perfect 3-of-3 from behind the arc. Both guys combined for 40 points and 10 rebounds.
- Taj Gibson played 29 minutes of solid grit-n-grind basketball. He had 20 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist. He shot 10-of-13 from the field and stepped up in a big way. I really love the adjustment of giving Taj more minutes. He’s one of the better players on the team needs more than 20 minutes.
- James Harden almost ruined my night by hitting a game-winner. He finished the game with 44 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 1 block. His ability to draw fouls has been a huge issue for the Thunder this series. He’s averaging 16 free throw attempts per game, and if he’s not scoring, he’s usually getting fouled. The Thunder need to be more physical in the post and quit allowing easy baskets at the rim. Making Houston second guess shots at the rim and forcing them into tough isolation plays seems to be the best defensive strategy. Definitely easier said than done.
- The rotations in Game 3 were much better than in Games 1 and 2. There was no Kyle Singler or Semaj Christon sighting tonight. Norris Cole saw 9 minutes at backup point guard and the Thunder offense looked much more functional with the ten-man rotation they played.
Next Up: Game 4 in OKC on Sunday at 2:30 pm CST