The Oklahoma City Thunder entered Game 4, knowing this was the difference between a commanding 3-1 Rockets series lead or a tied 2-2 series.
Well, in a game we will probably be talking about for a while, the Thunder were able to secure a 117-114 win to tie the series up.
Unlike the other games during this series, both teams started hot offensively. James Harden, who had struggled with Luguentz Dort guarding him, came out and scored 15 first-quarter points.
Meanwhile, carrying the offensive load in the first half for the Thunder was Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schroder. Gilgeous-Alexander had 14 first-half points, while Schroder had 15 first-half points.
After being tied at halftime, the Rockets came out hitting eight consecutive 3-pointers. At one point during the third quarter, the Rockets had a 15-point lead.
However, led by Chris Paul, Oklahoma City mounted a comeback, aided by a 20-7 scoring run that cut the Rockets lead to one point heading into the fourth quarter.
Three Guard Lineup
When Oklahoma City has Paul, Gilgeous-Alexander, and Schröder all on the court at the same time, they are lethal. Even coach Billy Donovan said after the game that “our three guards and Danilo Gallinari as our primary scorers have been our formula all year.”
The three guards combined for 74 points on the night. Down the stretch, Schröder and Paul were crucial as they scored the Thunder’s last 12 points.
Schroder led Oklahoma City with 30 points, while Paul, who only had four points at halftime, finished with 26 points.
“We knew we had to take our shots when they were there, and we know we have dynamic guards, and if we give them space, they can get downhill,” said Paul.
Thunder’s 3-Point Defense
It is no secret that the Rockets want to shoot as many threes as possible. In Game 4, they shot a record-breaking 58 3-pointers.
Despite shoot nearly 40% from three, the Thunder did a great job defensively. Houston did most of their damage shooting threes in the first and third quarters as they made 17-of-23 threes in those two quarters.
When it mattered most in the four quarter, Oklahoma City forced Houston to shoot 3-of-18 from downtown.
Also, Oklahoma City limited Harden to only five free throw attempts and only 10 attempts as a team. Head coach Billy Donovan attributed that to the effort Dort brings on a nightly basis.
“Lu did a great job,” Donovan said after the game. “He’s guarding a great offensive player, but one thing with Lu, you know you’re going to get great effort,” said Donovan.
Pivotal game five will be on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. CT and will be broadcasted on TNT.