This was a game where you could just sit back and appreciate some offensive basketball. Not a lot of players had bad days, and not a lot of turnovers were committed. The Thunder just did the sensible thing and beat the Rockets like Don Nelson would want them to: by outscoring them. The Thunder hit a remarkably high 7 out of 11 three pointers taken, and five different players were in double digits. Sometimes I don't have a whole lot more to say than, "Man, what a great team."
And even though this game looks like your run of the mill Thunder win, it was actually quite different. Thabo Sefolosha did little to stop Kevin Martin's 22 Point onslaught, but he canceled it out with a season high 15 Points, 9 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 1 Steal, and 2 Blocks. To be quite honest, I'd rather have that on my team any day of the week. The other high four scorers were the usual suspects, with Durant scoring 32, Green with 21, Westbrook with 17, and Harden with 16.
Also critical of the Thunder's play was the key stops they had at key times. At the end of the third (where the Thunder had a nine to nothing run), the Rockets lost the ball twice and missed a three, while the Thunder had a couple of easy layups, hit a pair of free throws, and had Maynor knock down a three towards the end of the quarter. Another three to start the quarter from James Harden pushed the Thunder's lead to 13, and they never really looked back. The lead got as high as 16, putting the game in the books around the three minute mark. In most games, it's hard to point to a single offensive sequence and say that it completely changed the game, but here, it's true. With the rest of the game being so tightly contested and runs being short and rare, this pretty much put the Rockets in the rearview mirror for good.
Below: Moving Forward, Awards!
Moving forward, we're 2-1 against the Rockets, and will see them again on January 12th. It's a game the should take seriously, especially if Yao and Brooks will both be back to full capacity. The Rockets are a team that gives the Thunder problems, but if you're going to be an elite team in the West, you have to win series against lower-tier teams like the Rockets. Of course, the Rockets still have the potential to improve and become a playoff team this year, but history is against them. Can Yao Ming really stay healthy? Can this team win any game that becomes a defensive battle? Can they get consistent performances from their young bench? With some teams looking to rebuild (Denver and Phoenix Possibly), I could see the Rockets sneaking into an 8 seed, but much beyond that is a longshot for the Rockets. Just too injury-prone, poorly put together, and inexperienced.
Thunder Wonder: Kevin Durant, 32 Points, 12-18 Shooting, 7 Rebounds, 4 Assists
Thunder Down Under: Thabo Sefolosha, 15 Points, 9 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 1 Steal, 2 Blocks
Thunder Blunder: B.J. Mullens, 0-3 Shooting, 4 Rebounds.
Thunder Plunderer: Kyle Lowry, 15 Points, 4 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 3 Steals
Next Game: Versus the Sacramento Kings, Friday, December 17th, 7 PM Central Standard Time.