Houston coach Rick Adelman does his homework: the Rockets evidently figured that if they could bottle up the rest of the Thunder, it didn’t much matter what Kevin Durant did, and they were right. KD racked up 26 points, and Oklahoma City actually outshot Houston (40 percent versus 36.4), but the Rockets just kept on coming, and while the Thunder played it pretty close for two and a half quarters, Houston began pulling away and didn’t let up. Final: Rockets 89, Thunder 77.
This is what you call a balanced attack: six Rockets scored in double figures, led by Tracy McGrady with 22. Yao Ming got his third double-double in three games, and Carl Landry added another from off the bench. Houston outrebounded OKC, 49-39. But perhaps the biggest difference is this: the Rockets don’t foul. We’re talking a total of ten fouls in the entire game, two of which (both from Yao) came in the waning minutes. The Thunder got nine points from the charity stripe as a result, but the Rockets earned thirty-one foul shots, producing 27 points. At least there’s some defense being exhibited here.
I had expected to see Robert Smith tonight, if only to offset the skyscraper that is Yao, but P. J. Carlesimo decided otherwise; Johan Petro started in the middle and produced some good numbers, with ten points and nine boards, three blocks and two steals. Russell Westbrook was conspicuous mostly by his absence: he played only 18 minutes and scored 6. Earl Watson, starting at the point, didn’t score much (six), but he did serve up eight assists and picked off seven rebounds.
Last time out, the Thunder had a painfully slow start and never got back into it. This time, they started fine, fell behind, and never got back into it. I suspect there will be rather a lot of “You’re doing it wrong” before tomorrow’s game with the T-Wolves at the Ford.