The Thunder, after failing to shake the Rockets through two and a half quarters, finally managed to pile up a 15-point lead. Houston, in desperation, went into a 2-3 zone; seemingly in no time, a 21-2 run put them up by four. Oklahoma City stiffened, did a run of their own, and eventually put away the Rockets, 105-102, to go up 2-0 in the series.
There were two reasons why this game was much closer than Game 1. The first, inevitably, was James Harden, who doesn’t remain bottled up for extended periods. He played all but 2:40 tonight, and rolled up 38 points on 9-24 from the floor and 17 of 20 free throws. The Beard also had 11 rebounds, which brings us to the second reason: 11 rebounds was good only for third among the Rockets, who absolutely owned the boards to the tune of 57-40. Had the Rockets shot better than 40 percent — and they might have, had Jeremy Lin been able to come back for the second half — they might have walked out of the ‘Peake with the win. Worth mentioning: rookie guard Patrick Beverley, who racked up a double-double in an unaccustomed start. (Kevin McHale always has something up his sleeve.)
Meanwhile, Batman and Robin were firing blanks at a Hardenesque pace: Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook scored 29 each, but KD (who played all but 2:30) was 10-25 and Westbrook 10-26. So it was up to the Other Guys to make some shots, which they did, Serge Ibaka knocking down 12 (on 5-6) and hauling in 11 rebounds, Thabo Sefolosha with 11 and Kevin Martin with 10.
What startled me was the sheer volume of long-distance shots, and the futility thereof. Seventy were attempted, but only 21 connected: the Rockets were 10-35, the Thunder 11-35. Anyone looking for bragging rights should look elsewhere, or perhaps elsewhen: say, Saturday night, when the series resumes in Spaceburg.