All the yammering before this game was how the Thunder, and the Sonics before them, hadn’t gotten a win in Houston since William the Conqueror was drafted by the Normans, or some such business. And the crowd started filing out of the Toyota Center with two minutes left, so they didn’t see the Rockets put together a 12-1 run to erase almost all of a late Thunder lead. On the other hand, they also didn’t see Oklahoma City hoist six free throws in the last 18 seconds — four by Russell Westbrook, two by James Harden — to seal a 118-112 win.
This one was pretty close early on: tied after one, Rockets up by two at the half. The big Thunder crunch began halfway through the fourth quarter, with OKC pushing out to a 13-point lead. The Rockets weren’t about to take this lying down, and twice closed to within two. As always, Luis Scola was a force to be reckoned with, leading all scorers with 31 points and hauling in 11 boards. Courtney Lee, summoned from the bench, got 12 of his 19 in the fourth quarter, including three of five from way out in the Woodlands; Kevin Martin was out, but Aaron Brooks, contained early, broke loose for some timely Houston buckets towards the end.
The difference here, though, was on the glass, where the Thunder dominated, 49-35. OKC shot a better-than-decent 51.2 percent, though they missed some early free throws. (The late ones, they dropped through methodically.) Kevin Durant was back up at the 30-point mark; Jeff Green got no rebounds but scored 16; and Thabo Sefolosha tied a career high with 13 boards. (Speaking of 13, Westbrook had that many dimes to his credit.) And Serge Ibaka came up with 16, missing only one shot all night.
Tomorrow: the Magic come to the Downtown Roundhouse. They will be in a foul mood, having had a winning streak of their own snapped this evening.