The catchphrase/hashtag tonight was #ShearTheBeard. It wasn’t quite that easy early on; in fact, this game might actually have been in doubt until maybe the last few minutes of the second quarter, when the Rockets came back from a double-digit deficit to tie it up at 38. After that, it became just another Number 1 thump of Number 8, with the Thunder taking a 60-47 lead at the half and pulling away to a 120-91 blowout.
The Beard did get at least somewhat trimmed: James Harden did come up with a team-high 20 points, though it took him 19 shots and seven free throws to get there, and only one of his six three-point attempts found the net. In fact, Houston’s long-distance prowess was conspicuously absent tonight, the Rockets throwing up 36 of them and cashing in on only eight. (The Thunder went 10-24.) If anyone was truly shorn, it was Jeremy Lin, who went 1-7 for a mere four points. The only other Rockets in double figures were reserves: Patrick Beverley, with 11, and Carlos Delfino, with 10. Houston overall shot an uninspiring 36.3 percent.
The Thunder ruled the box score: 53 percent scoring, 46-39 advantage on the glass, 28-17 advantage in assists, nine steals and nine blocked shots versus six and one. Kevin Durant bagged 24 points; Russell Westbrook approached triple-double status, with 19 points, 10 dimes and eight boards. Kevin Martin, as he should, led the bench with 16. About the only thing Scott Brooks is going to have to complain about was DeAndre Liggins missing three foul shots in a row late in the fourth, and it was over long before that.
The series resumes Wednesday at the ‘Peake.