It’s hard to get a handle on this year’s version of the Rockets: clearly the talent is there (though Chuck Hayes, the league’s smallest big, is missed), but too often Houston just misfires. Maybe it’s just a matter of getting used to Kevin McHale and his portfolio of low-post moves. For now, though, the Thunder will be content with blowing them out, as they did tonight at the ‘Peake, 109-94 at one point, OKC led by twenty-seven and as they hope to do tomorrow night in H-Town.
The real surprise here was how easily Luis Scola was neutralized, held to 5 of 14 shooting and a mere ten points. Kevin Martin was little better: 4-9, plus 5 of 5 at the line. The Rockets actually did better on the glass than the Thunder, but they had trouble turning those 11 offensive rebounds into second-chance points. The Houston bench got some extra minutes, and they actually shot better than the starters; still, the long ball was denied them (3 of 13), and apart from Martin, they were not so hot from the stripe.
Things were definitely falling OKC’s way: Serge Ibaka actually drained a trey at the first-half buzzer, which is up there with the most unheard-of things you ever heard of. Thabo Sefolosha was back, if not exactly 100 percent; he didn’t score, but his pesky defense put him at +13 for the night, better than anyone else on the floor. Kevin Durant may actually be getting his foul shot back: after missing his first two, he sank the next six and wound up with 26 points. And James Harden tossed in 23 to lead a happy bench.
The tricky part, of course, is having to play these same guys tomorrow night at their house and then come back home Sunday and play the Spurs, who are always tough, even in their current state of deGinobilization. (Manu’s out for eight weeks or so with a broken hand.) If things go well, I can just copy and paste this piece tomorrow night.