Russ Gets Another Triple Double, Defense Steps Up, Rockets Go Down
By Randy Renner
Russell Westbrook recorded another triple-double, Kevin Durant and Enes Kanter got double-doubles and the Thunder defense returned from oblivion to handcuff the Houston Rockets leading to a 116-108 win.
Westbrook now has 17 triple-doubles over the last two seasons, that’s eight more than anyone else in the NBA. Friday night he scored 26 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished 14 assists. That gives him 10 triple-doubles with 25 points or more since the start of last season. Over the same time frame the entire rest of the NBA also has 10.
Durant also had a huge night with 33 points and 12 boards. He also took the challenge of guarding former teammate and All-Star James Harden for much of the second half. Harden scored 33 points but he was just 8-for-22 overall and 2-for-7 from beyond the arc.
He wasn’t the only Rocket having shooting woes. After being held to just under 39 percent shooting in a blowout loss in San Antonio Wednesday night the Thunder went one better, holding Houston to just under 38 percent shooting overall and 23.1 percent (9-for-39) from the 3-point line.
“I thought our defense got better and better as the game went on,” head coach Billy Donovan told reporters after the game.
“We did a lot of good things tonight and we got good contributions from a lot of guys.”
Backup center Enes Kanter came up big in the second half after Houston center Dwight Howard was whistled for his second technical foul of the night and ejected. Without Howard, Kanter basically had a free ride in the lane most time he wanted it.
Kanter finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Dion Waiters again got the start for the injured Andre Roberson and scored 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting plus also providing excellent defense against Harden.
The only real negative for OKC was the play of Serge Ibaka, who scored just two points on 1-for-7 shooting.
The defensive effort was certainly encouraging after the Thunder had given up 122 and 123 points in their last two games. Holding the Rockets to less than 38 percent was a major accomplishment and taking them out of their 3-point game was a big part of that.
The Thunder are back in action Monday night hosting the Washington Wizards.