Not much red glare

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.

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