Man, that was a weird one. Russell Westbrook recorded his 7th straight triple double (27-10-10) tying the longest streaks of MJ and the Big O, but the Thunder still fell short to the Rockets.
After not playing great through the first three quarters, Russ put the team on his shoulders and carried them back into the game. Trailing by as many as 13, Russ and co. pulled within three and had the ball in their possession with about 17 seconds left. Long-time OKC villian Patrick Beverley was all over Westbrook as he handled the ball. I think everyone knew, including Beverley, that number 0 was not going to give up the ball. Beverley stifled every attempt that Russell made to get to the hoop and with the shot clock winding down, Russ was forced into a bad 3, resulting in an air ball.
Trevor Ariza was fouled on the rebound and after his two made free throws the Thunder had one final shot down three with 0.5 on the clock. Oladipo had trouble getting the ball in on the inbound play and ended up passing to an open Anthony Morrow inside the three point line. Morrow tried to run out to the perimeter and get up a shot, but his attempt was short (his foot was over the line anyway). The Thunder’s six game winning steak had been snapped on their home court.
First off, before we get further into the recap. 7 straight triple doubles is an amazing accomplishment. Russ didn’t play great for the first three quarters, but what he has been doing lately is simply incredible. Are we to the point now where it isn’t even a surprise when he gets one? I guess since he’s averaging one, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. I know it’s a loss but the Thunder are still 9-3 when Russ records a triple double, so I personally don’t mind when he gets one.
Now that we’ve talked about the awesomeness that is Russell Westbrook, let’s get back to the sloppiness of this game. Man, at some points it was tough to watch, just all around gross basketball. The Thunder and Rockets combined for 20 turnovers in the first half. Russell had 6 of his own, and Oladipo and Adams had 3 a piece. There were bad passes, dropped/bobbled passes and careless ball handling. It felt like instead of coming out well rested and fresh off a three day rest, they came out rusty and out of rhythm. Rockets vs. Thunder on ESPN is a game your circle when the NBA schedule comes out as a must-watch, but through the first three quarters it was anything but that. The Thunder took better care of the ball in the fourth quarter and ended the game with 18 total turnovers leading to 29 points for the Rockets.
Along with turnover, another issue for the Thunder was defensive rebounding. The Rockets finished with 16 offensive rebounds and the Thunder just seemed a little lazy on the boards and weren’t doing a great job of boxing out. Patrick Beverly crashed the boards hard finishing with 12 on the night, 4 of them being offensive. The Rockets finished with 11 more shots than the Thunder and offensive rebounds and turnovers will lead to that.
On the positive side, with the Rockets consistently giving up points in the paint all season, Steven Adams was able to go for a career high 24 points. Westbrook and Adams were able to effectively run their pick and roll, which we hadn’t seen a lot this year with team’s crowding the paint.
Also, similar to the first time the Rockets and Thunder met, James Harden had a tough shooting night (6-23). Solid defense from Roberson and co., along with several missed layups and just an overall bad shooting night held the Rockets All-Star 7 points below his season average of 28.5.
However, Harden’s off shooting night wasn’t enough to get a Thunder victory. He found other ways to hurt OKC, finishing with 12 assists and getting great contributions from his teammates Ryan Anderson, Clint Capela, Eric Gordon and Nene all scoring in double figure to hold off the Thunder’s late come back.
- Speaking of Harden’s poor shooting night, pretty much everyone had a poor shooting night, especially from 3. The thunder shot 25% and the Rockets shot 26.2%.
- When Russell Westbrook subbed back into the game in the 4th quarter he was absolutely amazing. He had two and-1’s and a steal leading to a clear path call. It really changed the mood of the game.
- The Thunder also went small with Jerami Grant at the 5 late in the game and saw some success. He’s turning into quite the get for the Thunder and the dude is an absolute freak athlete.
- Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE bites on an Anthony Morrow pump fake.
- The Rockets were not respecting Roberson at all. I know that no teams respect him, but the Rockets weren’t even paying attention to him. Which actually allowed him to get open under the basket or driving to the basket a few times.
- I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I’m not a fan of Patrick Beverley. When he started off with that full court pressure on Russ and then got the foul call on his flop, I almost lost it. I know that’s something he does often, and I respect his game, but I still don’t like him. Luckily Semaj got him back later in the game, picking Beverley up full court and forcing a steal which led to a Morrow 3.
- Spreaking of 3’s, Ryan Anderson shoots 3’s from so deep. Like 2-3 feet behind the line on his normal 3-point shot. That’s poses a problem for a defense because defenders have to come farther out to close out on him. Also, the fact that he’s tall and can shoot well from that far away makes that shot extremely difficult to contest.
- James Harden missed a lot of good looks. Roberson does a great job of pressuring him without fouling. I’ll just go ahead and say it, he needs to be on the NBA All-Defensive team.
- ESPN stat: Russ and James have combined for eight 39-point, 15-assist games. The rest of the NBA has none.
- I know sometimes he has to put it up if it’s late in the shot clock, but the Semaj Christon isolation pull up long 2 might be my least favorite shot in NBA history.
- Sam Dekker absolutely destroyed Enes Kanter on a dunk.
- Billy D got absolutely HEATED on a foul he thought should’ve been called on a Russ shot. I like when he gets fired up.
- The Russ to Adams lob! Haven’t seen it a lot this season, but it sure is great. Saw it twice pretty quick.
- Overall not a great performance, but as I said there were some positives, and the Rockets are a really good basketball team.
Next up: Home against the Celtics Sunday night at 6:00 CST.