Last night in OKC, Goran Dragić, filling in for the wounded Kyle Lowry, wasn’t a factor. Tonight in Houston, Dragić was a monster: 20 points on 7-10 shooting, plus eight assists. Add to this the perennial menace of Luis Scola, and it’s no wonder this one went down to the wire: the Rockets, down two at the half, rallied to a 12-point lead in the third quarter, and it took most of the rest of the game and some Kevin Durant sorcery for the Thunder to come back. Kid Delicious put OKC back on top with 22 seconds left; when the Rockets came up dry on the next possession, Durant got the rebound, drew an immediate foul, and swished two free throws. Down three, Houston had one last chance, but Dragić finally messed up with a bad pass, and that was it: Oklahoma City 98, Houston 95.
Kevin McHale, seeking a different result from last night, swapped around his starters tonight, inserting rookie Chandler Parsons and veteran Samuel Dalembert into the lineup. They got a mere four points between them, though Parsons had eight rebounds, and anyway, Scola had 28 and Kevin Martin 16, so it’s not like the Rockets lacked for firepower. (Parsons finished +14, highest of any Rocket tonight.) It was the first home loss for Houston this season, and you’d almost think it was expected: attendance was reported as 14,327, which is a lot for a half-full arena.
The Durant/Westbrook axis once again had the majority of OKC points 52 between them though the bench was forceful enough, with James Harden contributing 16 points and Nazr Mohammed coming up with 17, the most he’s scored since coming to the Thunder. On the downside, Eric Maynor went down four minutes into the fourth quarter and did not return; he’ll definitely miss tomorrow’s game with the Spurs, and probably several more.
Still, you have to figure that Scott Brooks is at least somewhat pleased with winning the first two of a back-to-back-to-back. We’ll have to see whether the absence of Maynor offsets San Antonio’s ongoing absence of Manu Ginobili. After that, it’s a Tuesday trip to Memphis, and while the Grizzlies are 3-4 at this writing, they’re still second in the Southwest, behind the Spurs and ahead of the Mavs.