James Harden finished with 31 points to help the Houston Rockets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 107-100 and put the series at 3-2, with Game 6 in Houston on Friday.
Harden made 7 threes on the night, as the Rockets went 40% from behind the arc on the night. The Rockets led from the outset of the game as Garcia and Harden combined for 30 in the first half to put the Rockets up 50-43 going into the break.
Houston began the third with a bit of a run to go up 14 midway through the third. Durant went to work to take over the Thunder offense, scoring 18 points in third, part of a 36 night for KD. The Rockets responded by never allowing the game to get close, finishing the 3rd on a 9-4 run to go up 12 heading into the 4th.
The Thunder down by double digits midway through the fourth, employed the Hack-a-Asik technique, which didn't have the intended effect of getting OKC back in the game or slowing down the Rockets. Asik went 8-12 from the line during this stretch, forcing the Brooks to abandon the tactic. The Thunder were unable to close the gap in the final minutes and will have to try again on Friday to end the series.
What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
Tonight was a perfect example of just how much Westbrook is missed this postseason. Patrick Beverly and Harden simply outplayed the Thunder's guards all night. The Rockets backcourt combined for 45 points, while Sefolosha, Jackson, and Martin combined for only 32 on 11-33 shooting. There was a lack of effort by OKC tonight to really get anything going, and the offensive flow was nonexistent.
Outside of the occasional Durant takeover, the Thunder had nothing in the offensive arsenal. Ibaka had 14, and Reggie Jackson had a late run to hit 20 points on the night. Kevin Martin had an abysmal night, going 1-10 for 3 points. The only good thing about the rest of the Thunder tonight was they only committed 8 turnovers, but even that was not enough to put the Thunder on top.
What was, overall, the main reason why the Thunder lost?
The Rockets finally found their shot tonight. Both Garcia and Harden hit 4 three pointers in the first half, the Rockets as a whole shot 40% from behind the arc, as all five starters plus Aaron Brooks scored in double figures tonight. The Thunder were never able to match the Rockets offensively.
The Hack-A-Asik technique failed to work as he went 13-18 from the line tonight. Like we saw in the Spurs series last year, this may have been used to disrupt the Rockets, but it simply didn't work and resulted in minutes going off the clock with the lead essentially staying the same. Even worse, the Thunder missed their small window of opportunity as the odds were in their favor. Trailing only by 6 with over 4 minutes to play, the Thunder foolishly kept fouling Asik instead of playing straight up defense. Soon, the lead was back to double digits, OKC had completely lost their rhythm, and the game ended in excruciating fashion.
What does this game tell us about what to expect for game 6?
After losing the first 3 games, the Rockets have been able to find that special formula to win the last two games. They're now heading home for game six, and with the Thunder missing their second best player, now may be time to worry. The Rockets will head home with all the momentum and the Thunder seem in part deflated. They've been unable to get help from key players, and like last season's finals, Scott Brooks has been unable to make any significant changes to slow down the other team.
The Thunder need more from their contributors like Martin and Fisher, tonight would've been the perfect night to put away the Rockets, now they've given Houston a fighting chance in the series.
|Final - 5.1.2013||1||2||3||4||Total|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||26||17||32||25||100|
Thunder Wonder: Kevin Durant, 36 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists.
Thunder Down Under: Serge Ibaka, 14 points, 9 rebounds.
Thunder Blunder: Kevin Martin, 3 points, 1-10 FG, 0-5 3 pt.
Thunder Plunderer: James Harden, 31 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists.
Next game: Game 6 @ Houston Rockets, on Friday, May 3rd, @ 8:30 pm. (OKC leads 3-2)
If you are looking for tickets to upcoming games, you can find Oklahoma City Thunder tickets here.