One always fears the Houston Rockets, simply because just about every one of them can score on you: seven Rockets scored in double figures, and two just missed with 9 points each. (Team high was Ryan Anderson with, um, 14.) Still, the Thunder can keep up with their scoring, though it’s never going to be evenly distributed. And after a late-fourth-quarter rally, OKC cranked up the defense, and held the Rockets to 10 points through most of the frame; with 6.9 seconds left, the Thunder led Houston 103-100, and in the next 1.4 seconds Russell Westbrook put up a Russell Westbrook-quality dunk, posterizing Clint Capela in the process, to make it a five-point game. The Rockets came back with a trey, but that was all they would get: OKC 105, Houston 103. Would Patrick Beverley have made a difference had he been able to play? Maybe, maybe not.
One might argue that the Rockets expended too much effort on three-pointers, and, well, they put up 40 of them, knocking down 14. (The Thunder was a bit better, at 12-25.) Only two OKC players finished in double figures, and you can probably guess: Westbrook, of course, logging 30-9-6, and Victor Oladipo, with 29 points and 10 rebounds. (Possibly of interest: Oladipo was 12-18 from the floor, Westbrook 9-20.) Andre Roberson collected only four points, but he did a splendid job of keeping James Harden down to 13.
The 7-5 Thunder now gets a couple of visitors from the East: the fumbling Brooklyn Nets on Friday, and the inconsistent Indiana Pacers on Sunday. There follows a West Coast trip, to see the Lakers, the Kings and the Nuggets before coming home to the Detroit Pistons, who have already beaten the Thunder once. This could get interesting, even delightful; or it could all go to pieces.