By Suave Francisco
With just six games left in this 2015-2016 NBA season, teams are fighting for a better position in the playoffs, and in the Houston Rockets' case, looking for a playoff spot. With that in mind, and being just one game out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference, the Rockets came into the game Sunday hungry for a victory. Unfortunately for the Thunder, that's exactly what happened as they fall 118-110.
Early on, things looked sloppy for OKC, shooting just 31 percent in the first quarter. It wasn't until late in the first quarter that they made a slight run extending the lead to 30-26 at the end of the first. Trevor Ariza did a great job getting into the core of Oklahoma City's defense by scoring the first 9 points of the game. By the half, Oklahoma City improved their shooting percentage to 45 percent and went into the half with a lead, following a big shot. It gets better. Right out of the locker room, things went even better. Russell had four assists in the quarter alone, KD hit the 20-point mark early in the third quarter which marks his 61st consecutive game scoring 20 points or more in a game. Halfway through the third quarter, it appeared like the Thunder may pull away and extend this into a blowout of sorts as they went up by 12 points. Almost immediately following that, James Harden went on a personal 5-0 run to cut the lead down to 7 points. By the end of the third quarter, the Thunder held on to just a two-point lead, with Houston stealing the momentum at home from the Thunder.
How they lost the game.
Afte a huge dunk by Russell Westbrook following the steal, the Thunder held on to a 93-87 lead. Shortly after that, though, Houston went on a 9-0 run to take the lead and didn't look back. They had control of the game from that point on, and the teams began trading baskets. There weren't any defensive stops by OKC...at all. Plus, in the previous quarters, Westbrook had a total of eight assists. He finished the game with eight too. The defense against Russell in the final minutes really disrupted the offense, and the Thunder's defense didn't perform in the final eight minutes of the game giving up 38 points in the fourth quarter...plus, 20 turnovers don't look too good either.
At the end of the day, this game didn't matter much in the whole scheme of things for Oklahoma City for they are a lock at the three-seed. It just would've been nice for us to make Houston's road to the playoffs just a little bit harder. The next game will be away once again, against the Denver Nuggets who've underachieved this season with a 32-46 record. The Thunder fall to (53-24) on the season.
2 fun facts of the game:
1. Kevin Durant's 61st consecutive 20-point game puts him in very elite company with some of the NBA's best ever, since the merger, only Michael Jordan (72) and Kobe Bryant (63).
2. Dwight Howard finished the game with only 4 points and 7 rebounds. His team played considerably better after he was sat down with five fouls early in the fourth quarter.