You knew which way this was going to go when James Harden missed eight shots in the first half. Out of eight, yet. And it wasn’t even the Finals.
No, that was unkind. Back up. The Beard finished with 17 points in just under 40 minutes, albeit on 3-16 shooting. (He was a creditable 9-11 from the stripe, but he didn’t have Thabo Sefolosha harassing him on the freebies.) I am more amused, frankly, by the fact that Daequan Cook, who went to Houston with Harden, outscored him, with 18 points on 7-17. Patrick Patterson had his best game ever, with 27 points. And with all this going on, the Rockets were crushed 120-98. What a homecoming.
Then again, what would you expect in a game where Hasheem Thabeet is thumbed — and then un-thumbed? The Thunder just kept rolling. Kevin Durant dropped in 37, tying his season high; Serge Ibaka knocked down 11 of 13 for 23 points, missing a double-double by one rebound; Russell Westbrook appeared in the role of the Playmaker tonight and scored 14, missing a double-double by one assist. Kevin Martin led the bench with 17. OKC shot a stirring 54 percent, owned the boards 46-38, pulled off ten steals and 11 blocks (six by Ibaka).
Okay, one more shot at Harden: six of those 11 Thunder blocks were at his expense. “The Rockets offered only intermittent resistance,” said radio guy Matt Pinto. And the Battle of the Jeremys was a draw: Lin 6, Lamb 6. We will not mention that Lin played 41 minutes, Lamb two and a half.
The Jazz will be here Friday, ending the homestand; first road stop is New Orleans on Saturday.