Thunder Stun Rockets in OKC, Rally for 112-111 Victory
The Oklahoma City Thunder (48-33) overcame a 14-point fourth quarter deficit on Tuesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena, rallying to stun James Harden and the Houston Rockets (53-29) by a final score of 112-111. After trailing for the majority of the night, the Thunder found their rhythm late — as Russell Westbrook scored 13 points in the fourth to spark the comeback. Though Paul George struggled on a 9-of-25 shooting effort, he came up clutch when it mattered most, canning the game-winning three with 1.8 seconds remaining. The Thunder outscored Houston 32-18 in the final 12 minutes to squeak out the one-point victory.
Westbrook led the way with 29 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists — his 33rd triple-double the season. George was next up with 27 points on an off-night from the field, but he added nine rebounds, four steals, and the game-winner. The superstar duo was joined in double-figures by Terrance Ferguson’s 16 points, and 10 apiece from Jerami Grant and Dennis Schroder. James Harden paced the Rockets with 39 points (11/28 FG, 5/15 3P, 12/13 FT), with Chris Paul contributing 24 points, eight rebounds, and six assists.
The Fourth Quarter: Things were quite bleak headed into the fourth, as Houston led 93-80 after knocking down 16 threes in the first three quarters. The Thunder were shooting 38 percent from the floor at that point, with George and Westbrook a combined 12-of-33 (36%). The Rockets went up 14 with 9:26 remaining and it sort of felt over — but it wasn’t. The Thunder outscored the Rockets 27-12 from that point forward to steal the win.
But, How?: Westbrook and George were fantastic in the fourth, combining for 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting. The Rockets also went ice cold in the final quarter, shooting just 5-of-18 (27.8%) from the floor and 2-of-11 (18%) from downtown to let the Thunder charge back into it. The final seconds looked something like this:
- A Westbrook 3-point heave brought the Thunder within one with 21 seconds to go, with Harden knocking down 2-of-2 from the line immediately thereafter to put the Rockets back up three with 15.5 seconds left.
- Down three with the ball, Westbrook cut to basket for an easy dunk, bringing the Thunder within one with 9.4 seconds to go. Harden received the inbounds pass and was immediately fouled, sending him to the line — he was 11-of-11 at this point.
- Harden made the first three throw to put Houston up two, but misfired on the second — which resulted in a Westbrook rebound-and-go. The point guard made his way down the floor and found George in the corner, who casually knocked down the long ball to put OKC up 112-111 with 1.8 seconds remaining.
- Houston called a timeout to get the ball at mid-court with 1.8 seconds left. Eric Gordon found Harden, who shoved PG for an open look from the top of the key. However, his potential game-winner drew the front of the rim and rattled out, giving the Thunder a dramatic 112-111 victory.
Russ & PG: Triple-double number 33 for Westbrook, who wrapped up his night with 29 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, and just three turnovers. He shot 11-of-23 for the night — and his 13 points in the fourth quarter were huge. That 3-pointer to cut OKC’s deficit to one with 21 seconds remaining was only exceeded in importance by George’s game-winner.
MVPG: George isn’t going to win MVP at this point, but here’s one more moment to his collection of great moments this season. He didn’t have his best night from the field, but stepped up when it mattered most. He’s had a few of these plays this season — finally proving he can make big shots in other places than Gatorade commercials. Unreal season. Big shot tonight.
Kiwi & Jerami & Dennis: Pretty quiet night in the box score for OKC’s core group of role players. They combined for 28 points on 9-of-29 (31%), but alas, the Thunder won anyway.
F3RG: Ferguson carried the Thunder offense early on, and was actually tied with George for the team-high at halftime (10). He finished his night with 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting and a 3-of-6 clip from long range. He’s suddenly shooting very well again, folks. I’ll leave it at that.
The Other Guys: Harden was a monster for most of the night — but left just enough of the window cracked for the Thunder to steal it late. Though he missed the free throw that could have avoided such a catastrophic ending, he still finished with 39 points and 10 rebounds. Chris Paul had 24 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. Clint Capela had an 18-10 double-double, and Gerald Green randomly caught the Holy Ghost to finish with 15 points on 5-of-9 from long range.
Standings: With one more to play…